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j gff I LIBRARY 

New York State Colleges 


Agriculture and Home Economics 


Cornell University 



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"The author of this volume is evidently a practical man, and 
knows a great deal more about bees and their habits than most of 
the bee-keepers in England : indeed he may be said to be a very 
master in the art of bee mysteries." — Bell's Life in London. 

" This volume is throughout so obviously the result of observation 
and ripe experience as to leave no doubt of its value as a manual for 
the apiarist." — Bristol Mercury. 

' ' How to manage bees properly, so as to make a profit, is so clearly 
and pleasantly told in this capital work, that we need not trespass 
on its pages longer. "—Sherhorne Journal. 

" "We recommend his book to all who wish to spread a knowledge 
of this useful art among their neighbours and friends."— LantZ and. 










Some years ago, I was induced by my respected 
friend, Mr W. Thomson, then editor of 'The Gar- 
de;ier,' to contribute a series of articles on bees for 
that periodical. Mr Thomson heralded these ar- 
ticles with a few complimentary remarks. He then 
said : " We had practical proof of the extraordinary 
success resulting from Mr Pettigrew's system of bee- 
management when he was our foreman in the gar- 
dens at Wrotham Park, Middlesex, twenty-five years 
ago. We assure our readers who may peruse his 
letters, that though he may recommend what may 
clash violently with their present knowledge of the 
subject, he is, notwithstanding, a safe guide ; and 
that where profit is the object, no writer that we 
have ever read can be compared to him. We predi- 
cate that his letters will be of far greater value to all 
interested than the cost of the journal for many years 
to come.'' 

My father, James Pettigrew, was a labouring man, 
and perhaps the greatest bee-keeper that Scotland 
ever produced. He was so successful and enthusi- 
astic in the management of his bees that he earned 


and received the cognomen of "The B ee^maB^" ^'^•^ 
by this name he was well known for thirty years in 
a wider circle than the parish of Carluke, Lanark- 
shire, in which he resided. The district of the 
parish in which he lived when he kept most hives, • 
took then the name of " Honey Bank," which it still 
bears. While a common labouring man he saved a 
great deal of money from his bees ; indeed it was 
reported in the Glasgow newspapers that he realised 
£100 profit from them, one season. His example 
and success have, twenty-five years after his death, 
not yet lost their influence on the successful bee- 
keepers of Carluke, who say, "The old bee-man 
taught us all we know." The bee-man saved money 
enough to purchase the Black Bull Inn of the village, 
and therein commence business as a publican and 
butcher. When his sons reached their teens, the 
management of his bees was left in great measure to 
them. It was then that the foundation of what I 
know of bees was laid ; and though I left my native 
village thirty-five years ago, I am still known there 
as " the bee-man's son." As most readers of a book 
like to know a little of the author, I may be par- 
doned the egotism of saying, that at the age of eight- 
een I was apprenticed to the occupation of gardening 
at Carstairs House. In about four years afterwards 
I went to London to pursue my business. While an 
apprentice at Carstairs, and a journeyman in Middle- 
sex, I kept bees in " hidden places " in the planta- 
tions and shrubberies; and while acting in the 
capacity of head gardener, managed the bees of my 


employers. Now I have a small garden of my own, 
in which bees are kept for profit. Such is a brief 
outline of my history. The work before the reader, 
then, is a practical one, and written by a practical 
-man. Indeed the book is simply an exposition of a 
system of management practised by my father for 
forty years ; and profitably, for forty years since his 
day, by myself and others. 

Dr M'Kenzie, in a small book on bees, says he 
■was induced to study the subject from the fact that 
one of his two labouring men, having found a swarm 
of bees in a hedge, and therewith commenced bee- 
keeping, -was enabled to go without his wages tUl 
they were earned. Previously, both labourers got 
their wages in advance. The lift given to the one 
man by the possession of this fugitive swarm was so 
pleasing to the Doctor, that he commenced to read 
works on bees, and study their management both in 
this country and on the Continent. This little in- 
cident shows what a swarm or two of bees may do 
for a poor labourer. Indeed there are few things 
more profitable to cottagers living in the country or 
on the skirts of towns, than a few swarms of bees, or 
more easUy managed. " Bees," says Cobbett, " are of 
great use in a house, on account of the honey, the 
wax, and the swarms they produce : they cost noth- 
ing to keep, and want nothing but a little care." 

In bee-keeping I reckon the question of profit is 
of first importance. Stings do not seem half so pain- 
ful to the man whose annual proceeds of bee-keep- 
ing amount to £10, or £20, or £50. It is my desire. 

viii jeEEFACE. 

therefore, in this work to show how bees may he 
kept with hoth profit and pleasure. In addition to 
the profits of bees, there is a fund of interest and 
enjoyment derived from keeping them, uplifting in 
its nature and tendencies. One of the most pleas- 
ing sights on earth is that of a son of toil, after the 
labour of the day is done, taking a child in his hand, 
and going to see his pig, or cow, or bees in his gar- 
den. Who has not seen hundreds of working men 
charmed beyond description in attending to their 
bees or cows ! 

I hold that all employers of labour would do well 
to encourage their servants to spend their leisure 
hours in a profitable way. 



The author gratefully acknowledges the many favourable notices 
of the first edition of this book by the press, and the kindly 
reception it met with from the bee-loving community. 

More gratifying still are the statements and evidences of priv- 
ate letters to the author. Hundreds of apiarians, in all positions 
of society, are now masters of the art of bee-keeping, acid are 
successfully practising the system of management unfolded in 
the pages of this work. 

He trusts that this edition will be found as useful as the first, 
in giving its readers a firm grasp of the subject ; and that it will 
encourage all who are seeking profit or honey from bee-keeping, 
to carry into practice most of its lessons. 

Sale, Chebhire, Sth February 1875. 


The author gratefully acknowledges the kindly welcome 
given to former editions of this work, and is pleased to 
know that the perusal of its pages affords gratification 
and encouragement to bee-keepers of every class. Every 
week evidence of this fact is received. As the system 
of management which it unfolds stands on the stable 
foundation of experience, and has been successfully and 
widely practised for haK a century, there is no reason 
to doubt that the work will long be considered a stand- 
ard one, and a safe guide in bee-keeping. 

As there are other schools of apiarians, a Supplement 
has been added to this edition. In this Supplement a 
description of the best system of managing the bar- 
frame hive and the Stewarton hive has been given. 
The reader of this work will thereby have an oppor- 
tunity of gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the 
best systems of bee-management practised in Great 

Priory Vinetard, Sale, 
Ocloter 18S0 






The queen tee 1 

Her shape and appearance, 1 

Mother and monarch, 2 

The age of queens, 2 

How long in being hatched?... 2 

The food of princesses, 3 

The fertilisation of queens 4 

Where fertiKsation takes place, 6 
Sometimes lost on their mar- 
riage-tour, 6 

Egg-laying, 7 

How many eggs laid daily ? 8 

The sexes of eggs, 8 

The ovaries of queens, 9 

The eggs of virgin or unmated 

queens, 10 


Drones, 10 

How long in their cells ? 11 

Why so many ? 11 

Their idleness, 11 

Their sorrowful end, 12 


Working bees, 13 

Imperfect females, 13 


Possess five senses, 14 

Their industry, It 

Their ingenuity, 16 

Their courage, 17 

How to tame and domesticate 

vicious bees, 18 

Have bees a language ? 19 

Ligurian or Italian bees 20 

Government of a hive, 21 


Swarming, 22 

Preparations made for it, 23 

The signal and the rush, 24 

Piping 25 

Second and third swarms, 26 

Royal battles, 27 


Honey 27 

Crude and perfect honey 28 

No two kinds of different plants 
yield honey alike, 28 



Honey-dew, 29 


Wax, 30 

The product ofbees 30 

How much honey is consumed 
to make 1 lb. of wax ? 30 


Bee-bread, 32 

Too much collected, 33 

Propolis and water, 33 




The apiary, 36 

How far should hives be off the 

ground? 37 

How far asunder ? 38 

Bee-houses, 39 


The pasturage of bees, 39 

Much honey ungathered, 40 

Can a parish be overstocked ? .. 40 
AU localities not equally good, 40 

Honey-plants, 40 

Rich soil better than poor, 43 

Exposed and sheltered pasture, 44 
How far will bees go for honey ? 44 
Short journeys desirable, 44 


Hives, 45 

Agriculture and horticulture, .. 45 

Apiculture has loitered 45 

Facts and figures 46 

Successful management at Car- 
luke 47 

Mr Reid's letters, 47 

English bee-keepers far behind, 48 
Large hives, 50 

The materials of hives, 52 

Straw hives best, 52 

The quackery of new inven- 
tions, 53 

Improvements and success 54 

Shapes and sizes, 55 

The bar-frame hives, 58 

The American slinger, 58 

The advantages and disadvan- 
tages of bar-frame hives, 59 

Comb-knives, 60 

Bar-frame hives should be made 

of straw, 60 

The quilt 60 

Guide-combs, 61 

Cross-sticks, 61 

The unicomb hive, 63 


Boards, 63 

The door of the hive, 64 

Covers for hives 65 

Stings, 66 

Fumigation, 68 



The Irishman's secret 68 

Old corduroy 68 

Nothing else necessary, 69 


Swarming and non-swarming,.. 70 
Can swarms and honey he ob- 
tained from hives the same 

season? 70 

Swarming system test, 71 

Reasons given 71 

Which system yields most su- 
pers? 74 

Great success of Mr Fox, 75 

His magnificent supers 76 

His adjusting principle, 76 


Supers and supering, 77 

Straw, wood, and glass supers, 77 
The art of supering unfolded, 78 
Assisting bees to fill large su- 
pers, 79 

No doors in supers, 82 

Cutting supers off, 83 


Ekes, 84 

Better for getting a great weight 

of honey than supers, 84 

They prevent swarming 84 


Nadirs, 85 

Used when both honey and 
stacks are sought from the 
swarms of the current year, 86 


Artfflcial swaxming 87 

Probably invented by Bonner, 87 

Invaluable, 87 

Easily performed, 87 

How? 87 

Prevents waste of time 88 

Can be performed at any hour, 89 
How to know when hives are 

ready for swarming, 90 

Where to place swarms, 91 

Bee-barrow 92 

Vacant thrones 93 

Successors provided 93 

A little difBculty with second 

swarms 94 

Surplus queens 95 

Very useful in many ways 95 

How to find the queens in a 

swarm, 97 


Natural swarming, 98 

Time of swarming, 98 

Small hives cluster before, 98 

Large hives seldom cluster, ... 98 

Miscarriages, 99 

Their cause, 99 

The hiving of swarms, 100 

Artificial thunder and rain, ... 101 

Fugitive swarms, 101 

Cannot be stopped 101 

American swarm-catcher, 102 

Third and fourth swarms, 103 

Conflict of queens, 103 

Regicidal knots, 103 

The loss of queens, 104 

Making good the loss, 104 

Virgin swarms, 105 


Turnouts, 106 

New honey, 106 


Feeding 109 

Bad seasons 109 

Disappointment of beginners, 109 
Success is certain to the per- 
severing, 109 

The profits of bee-keeping dur- 
ing the last five years 110 

The author's profits since 1870, 110 



The importance of feeding well, 110 
What happens if not well fed, 111 

Hunger-swarms, Ill 

Wealthy miU-owners of Lanca- 
shire, Ill 

Best artificial food, 112 

In what proportions mixed,... 112 
Many ways of feeding hees, ... 113 
Feeding - hoard, cistern, and 

trough 113 

The express method of feeding, 115 

Feeding in winter, 116 

Feeding at home, 116 


The diseases of hees, 117 

Dysentery, 117 

Foul brood, 117 

How to discover its existence, 119 
Inciirahle, 120 


Enemies of bees, 120 

Mice, 120 

Snails, 121 

Robbers 121 

How bees know each other,... 122 


Transporting bees, 123 

Great care required 123 

Ventilation 124 

The Talue of cross-sticks, 125 


The selection and preparation 
of stock-hives for another 
year, 126 

Should be fuU or nearly full 
of combs, 126 

Should contain young queens, 127 

The destruction of swarms 
condemned 127 

What should he done with 
them 127 

Greater consumption of food 
in populous hives, 128 

What to do with very light 
hives 128 

Value of fresh combs to a 
young swarm, 128 

What is to be done when all 
the hives are too heavy for 
keeping, 129 

Sugar -syrup healthy winter 
food, 130 


On driving and uniting 

swarms 132 

How bees are driven 132 

How to succeed in cold wea- 
ther, 132 

How to shake swarms out, .... 133 
Often done in candle-light,.... 134 
Minted syrup and nutmeg,.... 134 
The hilarity of children and 
bees, 135 


On taking honey and wax, 137 

How to know the quantity of 

honey in a hive 137 

The process of taking honey,.. 138 
The American slinger has not 
power to sUng heather- 
honey from comb, 139 

Is never likely to come into 
general use amongst bee- 
farmers, 140 

Taking -wax 141 


On winter treatment, 142 

The importance of keeping 
bees warm 142 

Fresh air necessary in win- 
ter, 142 

Many destroyed for want of 
suificient attention, 143 


Bad luck comes from bad 
management, 143 

Can bees be wintered under 
ground? 144 


When should bees be pur- 
chased? 144 


The Bar-frame Hive, 14G ] The Stewarton Hive, 150 


Februai-y, 157 

March,.." 158 

April, 160 

May, 161 

June 162 


155 July, 165 

August, 167 

September, 168 

October, November, and De- 
cember, 171 





In every healthy hive of hees there may be found, at cer- 
tain seasons of the year, a queen or mother hee, males or 
drones, and working bees ; honey and vrax, bee -bread 
and propolis. 






By loo King at the representations of the dififerent bees, 
the reader wiU see that a queen bee is less in size than a 
drone, and larger than a working bee. In shape she is 


more like a worker than a drone, but more genteel and 
beautiful than either. Her abdomen or belly is compara- 
tively long, and gradually tapers to a point — giving her 
an appearance quite distinguishable from all in the hive. 
She is reaUy a queenly creature, modest and graceful in 
all her movements. 

Being mother and monarch of the hive, her life is very 
precious. The loyalty of her people, and the activity of 
her body-guard, are remarkable. ISTo human monarch was 
ever half so well attended to by his subjects as a queen 
bee is by hers. The life and prosperity of a hive depend 
on the presence of a queen — a queen moving and reigning 
in it — or in prospect — that is, in embryo ; for when a queen 
dies, or goes with a colony or swarm, she leaves behind 
her some princesses in their cells — that is to say, in their 
infant state — or eggs which the bees hatch into queens. 
If a hive lose its queen, and is without expectation of 
getting another, all prosperity comes to an end — the con- 
tentment, loyalty, and industry of the bees depart from 
them : their stores of honey are often undefended by 
themselves, and stolen by the bees of prosperous hives. 

Tlie Age of Queens. 

They live about four years. In this the worth of their 
lives to the community is seen. The working bees live 
but nine months, and the drones are not permitted either 
to live or die ; they are destroyed. The climax of their 
history is not a pleasing one. But queens, generally 
speaking, live four years. Some die when they are three 
years old : very few die a natural death sooner. 

Queens are fourteen days in being hatched — that is to 
say, perfect queens are produced on the fourteenth day 
after eggs have been put into royal cells. To a thought- 
ful bee-keeper the length of their days is not so great a 


marvel as the shortness of time they are in their cradle- 
cells. Only fourteen days for the process of developing 
small eggs into princesses of the blood ! A worker is 
twenty-one days in the cell, and a drone twenty-four days. 
Queens are perfected in ten days less time than drones. 
The mystery of this is beyond OTir depth ; but the fact 
indicates the value of the presence of the queens in their 
hives. When a queen is accidentally kiHed, or dies un- 
expectedly, or is taken from a hive, as in artificial swarm- 
ing, the bees have the power to make another. They 
take an egg meant for a worker from a common cell, 
where, if undisturbed, it would be developed into a 
worker in twenty-one days, and place it in a royal cell, 
and there convert it into a queen in fourteen days. In 
the royal ceU the egg is developed into a bee — different in 
size and colour, perfect every way, and perfect in seven 
days' less time than it would otherwise have been if 
left in a common worker-cell. This is an exceedingly 
interesting point in bee-history, and a wise provision of 
nature. It is a fact established beyond dispute that bees 
have the power of rearing queens from common eggs. It 
may be asked how they accomplish this, and by what 
means. The power seems to be in a substance termed 
" royal jeUy," which has a milky, gelatinous appearance. 
Whenever an egg is set in a royal cell, the bees place 
around it some of this mUky-lite substance, and soon 
after a little worm or grub may be seen floating on it, and 
by it this grub is fed. What this royal jelly is, we do not 
know — neither can we tell where it comes from. If o writer, 
we think, has ventured to describe how or where it is manu- 
factured or obtained. If an analytical chemist would ever 
Kke to examine this substance, we would gladly furnish 
him with a thimbleful of it at the swarming season — taking 
it, of course, from the cells in which it may be deposited. 
Seven days after eggs have been deposited in royal 


cells, lids are placed on them — whicli is teclinically termed 
"sealing them up." What takes place at the birth of 
queens ■will be explained when we come to the chapter on 

Feiiilisation of Queens. 

This a very important affair — so important that a bee- 
keeper should know all he can about it ; when and where 
it takes place, and what happens when it never takes 
place at all. Queens are mated or take the drone when 
they are very young — viz., from two to ten or twelve days 
old. If they are not mated before they are twelve days 
old, they are worthless for breeding purposes, and worth- 
less for every purpose save that of keeping the bees 
together tUl they are worn out by labour or old age. 

When we consider the importance of the fertilisation 
of queens, the number of drones in a hive is not to be 
wondered at, especially when we consider that copula- 
tion never takes place inside a hive. If the weather be 
unfavourable for ten days after the birth of a queen, she 
is not mated. Some five-and-twenty years ago we caused 
a hive to rear a queen in the month of September, after 
all its drones had been killed. This was done with a 
view to ascertain how many days she left her hive to find 
a companion. The mouth of the hive was shut, so that 
every bee going out had to pass through a narrow tube, 
projecting two or three inches, before it took wing. 
Though the way out was plain and easy, neither the 
queen nor bees ever found their way back through the 
tube. For nine days the queen came through the tube, 
though the weather was rather showery at the time, and 
was invariably found outside the hive about four o'clock 
P.M., either nestled up in a cluster of bees near the door, 
or trying to find an entrance into the hive. Once she 
came home and alighted on the flight-board in our pre- 


sence at four o'clock, when the sky was heavily clouded 
and the atmosphere rather cold. Of course the queen 
and bees found outside the hive vfere admitted every 
afternoon. This simple experiment fully convinced me 
that the impulses of a young queen for a mate are very 
strong and urgent j and vi'hen she fails to find one, the 
fault is not hers. 

Drones seldom leave their hives but in very fine 
weather. This fact accounts for the non -impregnation 
of queens during unfavourable weather. Very cold or 
stormy weather may, and often does, we daresay, prevent 
queens from leaving their hives on these errands. Failure 
is very uncommon in fine weather. About the time her 
majesty is expected to leave her hive, the drones come out 
in great force, and make a tremendous noise in front of 
the hive. By reason' of their number their buzz becomes 
a roar, and may be heard at a considerable distance from 
the hive. Last year we happened to hear this well-known 
sound, and went to see her majesty come out of her hive 
and go away on her marriage - tour. The hive was no 
sooner reached than she was seen going into it. She had 
been abroad before the drones had come out. In about 
five minutes after her return she came out again, and 
took wing amid a noisy rabble of drones. 

The statements of some authors about queens selecting 
their lovers in their hives, and then going away together 
to make their nuptial couches high up in the air, where 
no eye may foUow, are mere poetical fancies. When 
a queen comes out of her hive for this purpose, she 
comes by herself : she has no favourites, and as readily 
accepts a mate from another hive or community as 
from her own. How far she wUl fly in search of a 
mate is not known. Drones fly great distances from 
home, and often impregnate queens which they happen 
to meet. Though there were a great many hives in our 


garden last year, and drones enough in every one of them, 
some of our young queens were made fruitful by contact 
with Italian or Liguiian drones. Ko feee-keeper that we 
knew of, having Ligurian bees, lived within four miles' 
distance of our apiary. Pairing does not take place in- 
side of hives. 

But where does copulation take place ? In the air, or 
on the ground 1 Most writers on bees think it takes 
place in the air. We think it takes place on the ground — 
that the queen is caught in the air by one or more drones, 
and both come to the ground. Last summer we saw a 
queen hotly pursued by two drones. They overtook her, 
when she doubled, and went back as a hare does when 
pursued and overtaken by dogs. She gained a few paces 
at the turn, and aU went out of my sight. When I was 
a lad, in my father's house, a labouring man called to tell 
us what he had seen while digging in a field about half 
a mile distant from our house. He heard a great noise, 
as if a swarm of bees were passing over his head ; he in- 
stantly looked up, when a ball of drones fell at his feet, 
half the size of his spade-handle. With a bit of stick 
he began to poke among the drones, when to his astonish- 
ment a queen crawled out of the cluster and took wing, 
followed in a twinkling by all the drones. His statement ■ 
we beheved at the time, and stiU believe it. 

A great many queens are lost on their marriage-tours . 
they never return. Whether they fall into water and are 
thus lost, or lose their way home,or go into wrong hives, we 
cannot say ; but most bee-keepers of observation and ex- 
perience well know that these necessary excursions are 
not unattended with risk, and often with loss. 

It is well for apiarians that their queens, when timely 
fertilised, never require drones again as long as they live. 
It is believed that during the first ten days of their lives 
copulation may take place more than once, but after- 


wards it never takes place. Tliis is one of the inost 
extraordinary things in bee-history. A queen bee lives 
four years, and lays a vast number of eggs — at least 
2000 a-day — in the heat of summer, for months together, 
every year. "We guess that a healthy fertile queen, during 
her life, lays 800,000 eggs— 200,000 a-year— all duly 
fecundated, and capable of hatching into young bees, 
though the queen never meets a drone after the first few 
days of her existence. 


This commences from six to ten days after impregna- 
tion. Who can think of the laborious and monotonous 
life of a queen bee without being touched with a feeling 
of tenderness and compassion for her? This queenly 
creature leads a life of toU. Six months of the year does 
she move from comb to comb, and from cell to cell. In 
thus travelling up and down the hive, she is seeking 
empty cells in which to lay her eggs, which are of some 
size and substance, being in shape somewhat akin to 
birds' eggs. When she finds an empty cell, she inserts 
her abdomen, and drops an egg, which adheres to the 
bottom of the cell by the small end. The eggs come so 
fast from her that she has neither time nor strength to 
lay one in each cell : often two, and sometimes three, 
drop into one cell. The bees remove the supernumeraries 
that are found in some cells, and iill the cells that have 
no eggs in them. This point or statement has been dis- 
puted by one or two apiarians, but never disproved. We 
have known eggs removed from cells to other cells hun- 
dreds, if not thousands of times. There is, we admit, 
great difficulty in seeing the transit of eggs from cells to 
cells; but on examination of combs after queens have 
gone over them, empty cells may be found near to other 


cells containing two or three eggs. On another examina- 
tion some time after, the empty cells will he found all 
filled. And often, when bees are building combs, eggs 
are set on the foundations of cells — that is to say, as soon 
as the bottoms of the cells are formed, eggs are placed on 
them, and afterwards their sides are built up around the 

Some one may ask how it is known that a queen bee 
lays 2000 eggs every day in the height of the season. 
Some hives contain more than 2000 square inches of 
combs each. Let us suppose that only one half of these 
combs is filled with brood, and the rest filled with honey 
and bee-bread : that is 1000 inches of comb for brood in 
each hive. One inch of comb has 50 worker-cells in it, 25 
on each side. Very well, 1000 inches of comb contain 
50,000 young bees, in all stages of development, from the 
egg up. These 50,000 young come from one queen in 
three weeks. Divide the 50,000 by 21, and it will be 
found that the average number laid per day for three 
weeks amounts to some hundreds beyond 2000 per day. 
"We have not yet seen a hive large enough to overtask the 
laying powers of a queen bee. 

Tlie Sexes of Eggs. 

On this question there appeared in the first edition of 
this work some very interesting and well-written letters 
from the pen of the late Mr Woodbury of Exeter, who 
held " that eggs of queen bees when laid are of two sexes, 
male and female, and that no after-treatment can alter 
either sex." We then were inclined to believe that all the 
eggs of queen bees in proper condition are of one kind 
only, and convertible into queens, drones, or workers. 
Mr Quinby, an able American writer on bees, held the 
same opinion, and argued thus : " If food and treatment 


would create or produce organs of generation in the female, 
by making an egg destined to be a worker into a queen 
(a fact which, all apiarians admit), why not food and treat- 
ment make a drone'!" We suggested some experiments, 
with the hope that they would be fairly and widely tried. 
We tried them ourselves, and in every experiment the 
bees failed to hatch female eggs into drones, and drone 
eggs into females. Mr Woodbury, and all of his way of 
thinking on this question, are right, and we were wrong. 
As soon as we were satisfied on the question, we published 
our change of views in the columns of the ' Journal of 
Horticulture,' and there gave an account of the experi- 
ments which led to the change. A bit of drone-comb 
containing eggs was placed amongst some bees which had 
lost their queen, and were in a state of great commotion 
and lamentation for theii loss, running hither and thither 
in search of her. The hive contained no eggs of its own, 
as the queen lost was a virgin one. As soon as the bees 
found the eggs, they commenced at once to erect royal 
cells around them, and became as calm and contented as 
possible. The eggs became maggots in the royal cells, 
and were covered with Hds at the proper time. On the 
sixteenth day after the royal cells were formed, they were 
cut out for examination. Only one of the maggots had 
taken the insect form : all were dead. The bees made 
a great effort, but failed to produce queens. In various 
ways, and many times during the last few years, have we 
had proof that queen bees lay both male and female eggs, 
and that no treatment by the bees can alter the sex. 

It has been stated by more than one writer that the 
ovaries of a queen are never impregnated, the matter of 
the male being stored in a distinct vesicle called the 
spermatheca, a portion of the contents of which is either 
withheld from, or communicated to, every egg as it passes 
through the oviduct — and this difference determines the 


sex. If this is true, it appears to us all but impossible to 
account for the fact that impregnation makes a queen 
prolific, causing her to lay a hundredfold more eggs than 
a queen unimpregnated. If the fertilising matter of the 
male is simply lodged in a distinct vesicle, and does not 
affect the productive powers of the queen, but merely 
touches and femalises so many eggs in passing through 
the oviduct, how comes it to pass that unmated queens are 
nearly barren 1 We think that the explanation given as 
to the cause of some eggs being male and some female is 
not satisfactory, and that the mode of fecundation may 
be for ever veiled from the ken of mortals. Also, how the 
queen knows what kind of eggs she deposits — placing 
male eggs in drone-comb and female eggs in worker- comb. 
The eggs of virgin or unmated queens are male in, 



These are about the most idle and unfortunate creatures 
in existence. They are generally hatched in drone-combs, 
the cells of which are considerably larger than those of 
worker-combs. These large cells, buUt up together, are 
called drone-comb. The less of drone-comb there is in a 
hive, the better it is for breeding purposes ; for though the 
bees can rear drones in worker-ceils, they never rear workers 
in drone-cells. Drone-combs are generally situated on the 
extreme outsides of the worker-combs, but sometimes 
they are found near the centre of the hive. It is the 
position and number of drone-cells in a hive that deter- 
mine the number of drones reared. If such cells are near 


the centre, drones ■will put in an appearance long before 
the hive is ready for swarming ; and if on the outside of 
the combs, the hive wUl be ready for swarming about the 
time drones are first hatched. Their appearance in a hive 
is therefore no safe guide as to its ripeness for swarming. 

Drones are twenty-four days in being hatched from 
eggs — that is, they come to perfection in twenty-four 
days, being three days longer in their cells than workers, 
and ten days longer than queens. 

But why so many idle fellows in a community remark- 
able for industry and activity ? It is easier to ask this 
question than to answer it. They are produced for a pur- 
pose, and that is the impregnation of the queens. When 
the importance of this impregnation is considered, the 
apparent want of economy in the production of so many 
otherwise useless creatures will not be wondered at. The 
time given for this fertilisation is limited to ten or twelve 
days at most. When weather is cold or wet, drones do 
not leave their hives ; and even when the weather is fair 
and favourable, they do not all leave their hives at the 
same time. As the reader is already aware that copula- 
tion takes place outdoors — it may be at some distance 
from the hive — he will more easily understand why so 
many drones are usually produced. Better to have a 
superabundance of 10,000 drones than the queen fail to 
meet one. The more drones — indeed, the more hives in a 
garden — when a queen becomes marriageable, the more 
likely is she to be seen and mated when she leaves on 
that errand. 

Queens and drones, the produce of one mother, mate 
without the least deterioration of blood. In-and-in breed- 
ing amongst bees for generations and ages does not in 
the smallest degree produce bad results. 

The great characteristic of a drone bee is his laziness. 
He wiU die of want rather than work. Drones have 


never been known to do " a hand's turn." In recently 
Lived swarms, before any honey is stored up, drones may 
be frequently seen stooping down to be fed by working 
bees ! Drones wanting to be fed place their feeding- 
tubes alongside those of workers, and thus remain appar- 
ently motionless while the pumping process goes on. 

But these idle gentlemen know the country geographi- 
cally better than the working community. In fine weather 
they take longer excursions into the country for pleasure 
than working bees do for food. If a hive be removed in 
fine weather two miles, some few bees and a great many 
drones return to the old place. If removed three or four 
miles, a considerable number of drones return, but no 

Comparatively useless in their lives, drones come to a 
sorrowful end. What is termed the massacre of drones 
seems a strangely cruel process. Well might a great 
naturalist exclaim, — " The climax of drone-life is wonder- 
ful—a chapter of horrors, which clouds the harmony of 
an otherwise beautiful system of insect-life." 

About fourteen days after the queen of a hive has been 
fertilised, or some days after she has begun to lay, the 
working bees begin to haul and maul the drones about. 
Day by day the bees become more anxious to worry the 
drones. Inside the hive the drones are driven from the 
honeycombs, and may be found in heaps on the board 
for days. Here they become weak from want of food ; 
and when they leave the hive many of them have savage 
tormentors on their backs. Some fall oif the flight-board 
so weak that they cannot fly ; but most of them die at a 
distance, being unable to return. 

During weather unfavourable for honey-gathering, 
drones and drone-brood are often -destroyed. On the 
appearance or prospect of hard times the bees destroy 
these comparatively useless creatures and cast them out of 


their hives. Whenever white drones are seen being cast 
out, the owner may he pretty certain that his bees are on 
the border-land of starvation. The lives of drones being 
always cut short, no one can say how long they would 
live if let alone. 



The common working bees are twenty-one days in their 
cells, and live nine months. Probably nine-tenths of 
them die, from some cause or another, before they reach 
their allotted span ; but at the end of nine months or 
thereabouts, after their birth, all perish. The working 
bees are considerably smaller than either queens or drones. 
They do all the work and drudgery of a hive, and do it 
with a wiUingness and activity that baffies and beg- 
gars description. They manufacture the wax, bmld the 
comb, gather honey by day, and store it away by night. 
It is hard to believe that they never sleep, though we 
have never seen one either sleepy or asleep, in winter or 

The working bees are female in character, and are pro- 
duced from the same kind of eggs as queens. The 
queens are of course fully developed, and have their 
reproductive organs in a normal or perfect condition ; 
whereas the working bees are undeveloped females, with 
reproductive organs imperfect. The treatment which the 
eggs receive in their cells determines whether the bees 
shall be born perfect or imperfect. This is one of the 
many interesttag things in bee-history which is at present 
veiled in mystery. The same egg may be reared into a 


queen in fourteen days, or into a working bee in twenty- 
one days. Whether the queen is developed and made 
perfect by special treatment in the cell, or whether the 
working bee is dwarfed and made imperfect by special 
treatment, is a question yet unanswered — and is, perhaps, 
beyond the powers of human investigation. 

It is a fact established beyond all doubt that bees can 
procure a queen for themselves, provided they have larvae 
not more than three days old in worker-cells. Eoyal 
cells and a particular kind of food only appear necessary 
for the conversion of common larvsB into queens. 

The development of queens from worker-eggs or grubs 
is a most marvellous transformation, and comprehends 
far more than the development of the reproductive organs 
in queens, or the repression of them in worker-bees. The 
transformation alters the aqatomical structure and in- 
stinctive propensities. Queens are different in form, 
colour, and habit from, and live six times longer than, 
working bees. They have more slender trunks and more 
crooked stings than bees ; they have no downy brushes 
at the joints of their Umbs, or basket-shaped cavities on 
their legs for holding bee-bread. Queens in numerous par- 
ticidars are very different from the working bees. In this 
transformation there is a world of wonders and mystery. 

Bees, like the human family, possess five senses — 
viz., sight, feeling, taste, hearing, and smelling; and a 
very interesting and instructive chapter could be written 
in proof of their existence and acuteness. We must 
hasten to notice the industry, ingenuity, and courage of 

The Industry of Bees. 

How few bee-keepers know the worth of their own ser- 
vants — the value of their own stock ! No writer can get 
near enough to touch the hem of the garment of the in- 


dustry of honey-'bees. Fancy a large and prosperous hive 
full of combs, bees, and brood ; fancy 20,000 little grubs 
in this hive requiring constant attention and proper food, 
and all receiving them in due season ; fancy the care and 
diligence of the bees in mixing and kneading this food 
before they give it to their young ; fancy 20,000 of these 
grubs daily requiring and receiving beautiful lids on their 
cells while they pass into the insect form and chrysalis 
state; fancy 800 or 1000 square inches of this brood 
being built up every three weeks. Try these combs in 
the scales against a twenty-eight-pound weight and see 
which conquers. Stand and look at that hive of bees, 
and remember that all therein goes on with unerring ex- 
actness and without light : then think of the imtiring 
energy and perseverance of the bees outside the hive — 
ranging fields and woods from morn till night, gathering 
up the sweets and the pollen of flowers, storing the one in 
sacks and the other in baskets, returning to their homes 
laden as a donkey with panniers, increasing their honey- 
stores in weight from 2 lb. to 6 lb. per day ; and after 
their honey has been twice swallowed and disgorged, and 
thus made into honey proper, they secuiely lock it up. 
Tes ; think of all these things being done, together with 
countless and nameless offices performed every hour, and 
methinks the reader will be dumb with amazement at 
the industry of these wonderful bees ! ! Bonny wee crea- 
tures ! your own fanning wings will drive from your 
hives scores of tons of the sweat of youi labours ere the 
imagination of the poet or the pen of the historian can 
compass your industry ! 

"Without any pretension to accuracy, and anxious to be 
within the circle of facts, we may state that the daily 
consumption and waste of a large and prosperous hive of 
bees in the summer-time, while honey is being gathered, 
is about 2 lb. To repair the waste of such a hive, upwards 


of 2 lb. of materials have to be coUeoted every day. 
Beyond this there is often, in favourable weatlier, a great 
accumulation of honey. We have known a hive gain 20 
lb. weight in two days. This year, at Caimie, in Aber- 
deenshire, Mr Shearer had a hive that gained 10 lb. in 
weight in. one day. 

The Ingenuity of Bees. 

To mention half the instances of ingenuity seen in a large 
apiary would fill a book. In the building of combs and for- 
mation of 'cells, design is strikingly evident. Honeycomb- 
cells are made to dip to the bottom. If a piece of guide 
is put in wrong side up, the bees adapt it as a commence- 
ment, but 'reverse the dip of the cells, so that they slant 
in the best direction for holding honey. The stays and 
props so frequently given to weak places and loose combs 
display great ingenuity. 

When a swarm is put into an empty hive which it can 
only half fill, the bees, on commencing work, find that 
the way to the door by the sides of the hive is round 
about; and to shorten the way, they let down two or 
three beautiful hee-ropes, on which to descend and ascend. 
These ropes are made by one bee suspending itself to 
another, each bee coming lower down till the board is 

In spring months bees are anxious to hatch as many 
young bees as possible, and therefore spread themselves 
out as widely as they can. Sometimes the weather sud- 
denly becomes cold, causing the bees to have some fears 
about their brood being chilled. In order to protect the 
brood some bees gather themselves into a cluster in the 
doorway, and thus prevent the cold from going into the 
hive ; or, as our more accurate friends would say, to keep 
the heat in. Often is the door so closely wedged up — so 


nicely corked — that there is just room enough left for one 
bee to pass in and out. On the return of warm weather 
the protecting sandbag is removed. 

The story of the dead snail in a bee-hive is wortli 
mentioning. Snails are very fond of honey, and often 
take lodgings for months inside a hive. They eat both 
honey and wax. Bees attack and drive from their hive 
every enemy but snails and worms. These they will not 
touch. It happened that a snail died in one, and was 
more unpleasant to the bees after death than before ; but 
they could not cast it out. Their ingenuity was set to 
work, resulting in a coffin of wax being buUt around the 

The ingenuity of bees is manifest when they are at 
work on a windy day. In calm weather they fly pretty 
straight on their journeys to and from the fields ; but 
when wind is high, they seek the shelter of houses, 
banks, and fences. Often have we seen them flying at 
great speed along open drains and ditches, and in this 
way escaping the violence of the wind. And when it 
becomes necessary for them to leave their sheltered course, 
they rise like a rocket, and dive again into the most 
sheltered way. 

The Courage of Bees. 

Cowardice is not an element of their nature ; they fear 
no foe, and shrink from no danger. A bee cannot be 
cowed or dispirited by knock-down blows from the hand 
of man. If not stunned to inabUity, it wiU rise courage- 
ously to attack after being knocked down ten or a dozen 
times. Bees are furnished with weapons of defence ; and 
they know how to use them. We say defence, for that is 
the proper word ; for when they attack anybody or any- 
thing, it is owing to some molestation either received or 



anticipated. The tees of hives placed near a peopled 
thoroughfare, or in a garden in which men, women, and 
children are often moving ahout, become as quiet and 
peaceable as cocks and hens. They become really domes- 
ticated, and wiU not annoy anybody if they are not first 
annoyed. Human breath and sweat are very offensive 
to bees, and hence it is not wise to move amongst them 
while in a state of perspiration. 

But what about vicious bees and their courageous attacks? 
All bees born away from the haunts of human beings — that 
is to say, in a lonely place — are very apt to attack people 
going near their hives. Away from their own hives they do 
not attack anybody; but on seeing strangers fmen or cattle) 
approach their hives, they anticipate molestation, and 
are not slow to use their stings. Often have we proven 
that bees once domesticated never become vicious. Bees 
that are quiet and peaceable in autumn are quiet and 
peaceable in spring, though they may not have seen any- 
body near their hives all winter. But bees that are born 
in lonely places, and there fly about, wiU fearlessly attack 
both men and beasts that go too near their habitations. 

How to Tame and Domesticate Vicious Bees. 

Though this properly belongs to the practical part of 
our book, we may be permitted to say here, that the way 
to cure vicious bees is to make them acquainted with the 
sight and form of human beings. A scarecrow or two 
(what the Scotch folk call "potato bogles"), placed in 
front of their hives, soon make them all right. The scare- 
crows can be shifted from one position to another a few 
times. Some years ago I bought a hive in the country, 
and placed it amongst some others at home. The bees 
would not let me go near their hive. A bogle was placed 
in front of it, and to me it was interesting to watch the 


attack ; one or two of the savage creatures were seen eye- 
ing tlie face of the scarecrow, looking for a tender spot 
on which to dart. In a few days they became as quiet 
as the rest. 

Have Bees a Language ? 

To he sure they have. Who has not seen a flock of 
rooks or crows feeding quietly in a green or ploughed 
field rise on wing as a black cloud on hearing the watch- 
word sounded by a single bird, which had seen apparent 
or possible danger near 1 So bees have a language well 
understood by themselves ; and, we might venture to say, 
pretty well known by bee-masters of extensive experience. 

There is the hum of contentment and the hum of 
trouble — the hum of peace and the hum of defence — the 
hum of plenty and the buzz of starvation — the hum of 
joy and the roar of grief — the cry of pain and the music 
of their dance — the buzz of the heavy-laden and the scream 
of suffocation. The cry of pain from a bee at the door of 
a hive affects the whole community. 

Where is the bee-keeper who is not acquainted with 
the sound of bees bent on mischief? They have not 
stung him, but he knows they mean it. Often we have 
let the bees of a weak hive have the honey of some 
combs half empty. When no bees have been at work 
outside, a morsel of comb has been taken to the door of 
the weak hive ; and as soon as four or six bees have 
begun to feed on it, they have been carried to stores or 
combs to be emptied. As soon as these few bees have 
got home with their booty, the whole hive seemed to be 
made aware that more might be had, and hundreds of bees 
belonging to this hive were soon busily carrying it home, 
before the rest of the hives have known that honey could 
be had. Bees have a language. 




As our object in writing this book is to guide inex- 
perienced bee-keepers in a safe and profitable course, we 
may be expected to say a few words about Ligurian bees, 
wMcb were introduced into this country some few years 

The principle of novelty is implanted iu the human 
mind, and the weakest part of an Englishman is his guUi- 
bUity. A new style of dress, a Cochin-China fowl, a 
Ligurian bee, if well puffed up and advertised, wiU com- 
mand lots of customers. People are bewitched by 

But do you mean to say that the Ligurian sort of bees, 
which is so much praised, and sold at such high prices, 
is not better than the common English sort 1 Better for 
what ? Do they fly faster 1 Ho. Do they carry heavier 
loads 1 No. Do they lay more eggs f It has not been 
proven or tested to our knowledge. Do their eggs become 
perfect bees sooner ? No. Are they not earlier astir in 
the morning ? No. Do they work later at night "i No. 
Do they gather more honey ? No. Are they not better in 
any sense 1 No ; neither in Great Britain nor America has 
their boasted superiority been established. StiU, amongst 
bee-fanciers they are fashionable. There is a gratification 
arising from the possession of what we like, and to many 
the cost of the gratification is of no importance. The 
satisfaction derived from the possession of a swarm of 
Ligurian bees to many gentlemen is an ample return for 
the money paid for them. But to those who are more 


anxious for profit than for novelty we would say, wait till 
you are certain that the Liguiian bees are better than 
the common sort, ere you pay an extravagant price for 
them. "We have no words strong enough to express our 
admiration of the old English bees ; and if a public con- 
test between them and Ligurian bees could be instituted, 
we should confidently stand by the old sort. We like 
to speak well of the good roads and sound bridges that 
have borne us along for fifty years. 



The queen bee is monarch of the hive ; and every hive 
of bees must have a queen reigning or in prospect — that 
is to say, in embryo. The monarchy of a bee-hive is a 
very limited one, for the presence of the queen amongst 
the bees is all the authority she wields, but is enough to 
secure the greatest order, contentment, and activity. De- 
prive a hive of its queen, and we presently find the bees 
thrown into a state of chaos and commotion, tumultuous 
to a degree. Let her be restored to them, and there is 
presently a great cahn, and evident tokens of joy and 

The workers are the governors or rulers over both queen 
and drones. The harmony of a hive is so great and unique 
that it is but seldom necessary for the bees to exercise 
their powers of mastership. When queens become old 
and enfeebled, their governors resolve to have younger 
ones. Eoyal cells are prepared, eggs aie set in them, and 


then, comes the dethronement of the old ones. Frequently 
the old queens are cast out aHve. We have known one 
such crawl hack into the hive four or five times. It was 
a sad end to a useful life. But the bees mercifully ab- 
stained from hurting her. The welfare of the community 
demanded her removal, and a worthy successor in her 
place. Hence they cast her out, and reared another. 
If they had let her die a natural death, it might have 
taken place when there were no eggs in the hive, and thus 
have doomed the whole colony to extinction. 

In times of threatened poverty and starvation, a queen 
may lay many eggs ; but the bees often wisely remove 
them, rather than cimsume the httle food left for them- 
selves in rearing brood. Frequently half-hatched brood 
is torn out of the cells and cast out of the hives by the 
workers. Commands are often given not to swarm, after 
arrangements have been made for swarming. When we 
come to explain swarming, it will be seen that it is by the 
will and authority of the working bees that it does or 
does not happen — weather not interfering. 



It is our intention to explain this more fuUy when we 
come to the practical part of this work. Though it is 
one of the most interesting parts of bee-history, swarming 
and aU its adjuncts are very difficult to explain, or put in 
a tangible form. The building of drone-combs, and the 
formation of royal cells, long before they are needed, indi- 


oate that swarming is a law amongst bees — it is an instinct 
of their being, and tends to their preservation. 

In spring months, hives, generally speaking, have not 
much honey in them. The combs afford plenty of scope 
for hatching brood ; and young bees are born much faster 
than they die. Hives soon become very full. Sometimes 
clusters of bees, lilce bunches of grapes, hang outside. 
They are ready to swarm. Preparations are made for the 
important event. The bees well know, long before it 
comes to pass, that the queen (call her the old or mother 
queen) goes with the first swarm from every hive. What 
about a successor to the throne t When the swarm shall 
have gone, there will be no queen, no fresh-laid eggs. 
These wonderful creatures know aU this, and therefore 
never fail to set eggs in royal cells, and thus have young 
queens on the way when the first swarm is sent off. 
Grenerally the eggs for young queens are set about four 
days before swarming takes place. Inclement weather 
may prevent the swarm leaving at the usual time j and 
therefore the young queens may be nearly ripe, and ready 
to leave their cells, ere the old queen with the swarm 
leaves the hive. Sometimes these young queens are torn 
out of their cells, by reason of wet or cold weather ; and 
when this takes place, swarming is postponed for a week 
or two. The weather may become favourable, and a 
second time preparations be made for swarming. As the 
time draws near, scouts are sent to find a place for the 
swarm to go to. Like a queen wasp in spring, seeking a 
place to build her nest, these scouts may be seen going 
from bush to bush, and along the hedgerows in the neigh- 
bourhood of their hives. When the spot is fixed on, 
there is, in some way or other, a consultation about it in 
the hive, for messengers may be seen going straight to 
and from the place some short time before the swarm 


leaves. It may, and sometimes does happen, that two 
places are selected, haK the swarm going to the one, and 
the rest to the other place. 

But let us return to the hive, and there we shall find 
something to excite our admiration. Thirty or forty 
thousand bees are ahout to leave the place of their birth, 
and comforts of home, never to return. Home-sickness is 
unknown to emigrant bees, provided they have a queen 
amongst them. The signal for departure will soon be 
given, but not before these thousands of bees have well 
fiUed their bags with honey. Which great hee gives 
the signal to go will never be told, but unquestionably a 
signal is given, for in a moment the swarm begins to gush 
pell-meU, like a flowing stream, out of the hive. What 
an exodus ! What an interesting sight ! Talk about the 
Pilgrim Fathers (and all honour to them) leaving their 
native land for the shores of America ! Look at these 
courageous bees in the act of swarming, rushing forth 
to make the air ring with their cheers, rising into the 
atmosphere, and there roaring at the fullest pitch of 
joy and gladness. The swarming of bees is like a 
wedding, in this particular, that it seems to inspire all 
spectators with a felt interest and enthusiasm in the 
scene. Brave colonists ! go and prosper, and multiply 
exceedingly ! 

Let us look into the mother hive. Why so quiet now ? 
No crowding, no suffocation, scarcely a sound is heard. 
More than haK the bees are gone ; still there are enough 
left to rear and hatch the brood. Comparatively few 
hands can be spared now to gather honey ; but great 
numbers are born daily — brood becomes population. 
There is no queen to lay eggs. In a short time many 
cells will be empty, and an ample population, aU but free 
from the duties of nursing, ready and willing to fiU them 


with honey. In this transition state, while the hrood is 
passing into insect forms and living bees, there is con- 
siderable loss of weight. But what about second swarms ? 
"Well, we had intended to look into the hive after the 
swarm had departed. On turning it up we find three, 
four, or five royal cells have little maggots in them, float- 
ing or lying in a white substance like mUk. This milky 
substance is royal jelly : where the bees get it no one 
knows. These little maggots grow uncommonly fast, and 
become beautiful princesses in ten days. If there is ever 
anything Kke a regency in a bee-hive it is now, for their 
is no queen reigning, no queen born — still, all goes on 

By-and-by there are strange sounds made in that hive. 
They come from a royal cell. One of the princesses has 
come to maturity, and intimates her intention to claim 
the queendom of the hive. She calls " Off, off, off," which 
sounds like the barking of a dog at a distance. These 
sounds she repeats several times ; and, being unanswered, 
she leaves her cell, and becomes the rightful sovereign of 
the hive. She now commences to speak in another tongue 
altogether — uttering sounds more sharp and shrill. She 
calls, "Peep, peep, peep," or rather, " Pa-ay, pa-ay, pa-ay," 
eight or ten times. The other young princesses come to 
maturity, and commence to bark " Off, off, off," in their 
cells. This barking provokes the reigning queen very 
much. With murderous intent she runs up and down 
the hive to find these barking queens. Again and again, 
every few minutes, is she heard calling " Pa-ay, pa-ay," 
sometimes in one part of the hive and sometimes in an- 
other. And the responses, " Off, off, off," come regularly 
from the cells of her rival sisters. This calling of the 
queens is termed " piping." What is it for ? Who can 
teU ? It goes on for three days and three nights. The 


reigning queen during this time is seeking an opportunity 
of killing her rivals, but the working hees ward off her 
attempts to get at her sisters ; and they too are securely 
watched and kept in their cells. If the weather be fa- 
vourable on the fourth day after the piping began, a second 
swarm wiU issue from the hive, taking with it the queen 
which caUed " Peep, peep." Now one of the princesses 
kept in confinement for three days is permitted to take 
the place of her sister. She in her turn calls " Paray, 
pa-ay ; " and if the responsive bark of " OS, off " be con- 
tinued, a third swarm may be expected on the following 
day, or, at latest, the day after that. Third and fourth 
swarms have been known to issue from a hive in one day. 
Third and fourth swarms are not very common ; for the 
bees of most hives- find that two swarms in a fortnight 
axe enough to send off — and sometimes they cannot afford 
to do that. To prevent second swarms leaving, the bees 
adopt signal measures. As soon as the first princess is 
born, and commences to "pipe," they hush her into silence 
at once. Before she gets one " pa-ay " half uttered, the 
bees prevent her from going on with it. In stopping her, 
they make a sound like the word " hush " spoken by the 
human voice. The supernumerary princesses are kOled 
and cast out of the hive. 

It has been already said that the usual time of piping 
for second swarms is three days and nights ; but it ought 
to be stated that when the weather prevents swarming, and 
the bees are bent on swarming, the piping will be con- 
tinued for some days longer. I have known it continued 
for seven days ; and during those seven days not one of 
the princesses ever closed an eye in sleep. The piping of 
the queens, and their deadly hatred of one another, are 
two of the interesting and striking features of bee-history. 
Two old queens or two young ones — it matters not whether 

HONEY. 27 

they be mother and offspring, or sisters of the blood, or 
strangers every way — will, on meeting, rush savagely at 
each other, and fight with greater fury than bull-dogs. 

In every contest between two queens it is death or 
victory. In some such contests both die. I have known 
two engaged in this deadly and violent struggle roll out 
of the door of the hive, over the flight-board, and fight it 
out on the ground. In this battle one was killed and the 
other wounded. Once we saw two young queens meet on 
the flight-board of a hive while a second swarm was issu- 
ing from it. They ran and embraced each other in furi- 
ous combat ; but, as we wished to obtain the second 
swarm, we tore the combatants asunder and threw them 
up in the air. Both went with the swarm. Next morn- 
ing one was found dead in front of the hive into which 
the swarm was put. 


This substance is found in the flowers of certain plants 
in almost every country. Doubtless it is odoriferous; and 
hence the honey-bee, whose smelling powers are wonder- 
fully keen, can easily find it. The bee is furnished with 
a proboscis of some length, wherewith it can reach most 
of the nectaries of flowers in which honey is found. It 
has been said that at the point of the proboscis there 
is a brush of exquisite softness, which is used for col- 
lecting honey, and thus enabling the bee to fill its own 


The honey as it is collected in the flower and carried 
to the hive is not honey proper. The nectar of flowers 
is a thin sweet juice which may be properly called crude 
honey. This is collected by bees into the hives, and 
there converted into honey proper. During the day, the 
bees collect as much of this crude honey as they can, and 
place it in open cells till night, when they re-swallow it, 
thus making it into real honey. In this process it be- 
comes thicker and sweeter. Before it is swallowed a 
second time, it readily runs out of cells whenever the 
hive is turned up or held a little to one side ; but after 
having been put twice through the stills of bees, it is 
not easily disturbed in the cells. Besides, the taste and 
quality of the honey are greatly improved by the change 
effected on being re-swallowed. Doubtless much water is 
eliminated during the process. 

Crude honey being thin and watery, will not keep : 
like badly-preserved fruit, it soon becomes mouldy and 
sour ; but after it has been made into honey proper, it 
wUl keep good for two or three years, if not for a longer 
period of time. 

The honey of one kind of plant is different in some 
small degree from the honey of other kinds of plants — dif- 
ferent in substance, colour, and taste. For instance, the 
honey collected from the flowers of gooseberry and syca- 
more trees is of a sea-green colour, the flavour of which 
cannot well be surpassed for excellence. It has been 
often said by others that the honey from wild thyme is 
richer than any other honey. We have never lived 
where this plant grows abundantly, and have not tasted 
honey from it. The honey collected from the flowers of 
white or Dutch clover is clearer — more like spring-water 
— than any honey gathered from other flowers known in 
England. It pleases the eye better than honey of a higher 


colour. The flavour of clover-honey is good and pun- 
gent, hut not so rich and pleasing to the palate as that of 
sycamore and gooseberry. 

Honey gathered from heather-blossoms is considerably 
darker in colour than any other pure honey gathered in 
Great Britain and Ireland. It has a much stronger fla- 
vour too — peculiarly grousey. This heather-honey, though 
to appearance of greater substance and consistence, is con- 
siderably lighter in weight, taking bulk for bulk. The 
clear sort goes to the bottom of the jar, and swims the 
heather-honey when both go together. 



This material is found on the upper surface of the leaves 
of some trees, has a shining appearance, and is sticky to 
the toucL Many ignorant people think that it falls from 
the skies during the night. It is simply the product of 
an insect (aphis) found frequently on the under sides of 
the leaves of some kinds of trees. This insect is most 
plentiful in times of prevalent east winds ; and it is well 
known that flowers yield very little honey indeed when 
winds come from either east or north. In these times of 
scarcity bees work on these shining leaves, and thus col- 
lect honey-dew. It is dark in colour — disagreeable both 
to the eye and the palate ; and is a great nuisance to bee- 
keepers whose aim is profit. It is a great pity that bees 
touch it at all. 

Oaks, sycamores, limes, and beeches are the trees most 


liable to be attacked by tbe aphis which yields honey- 
dew. A small quantity of it mixed with pure honey dis- 
colours the whole, and makes it quite unsaleable. It 
never candies or crystallises like good honey. Though 
bees gather and eat it in times of scarcity, it is improper 
food even for them. 



Wax is not gathered Kke pollen or propolis. The bees 
have to manufacture it at very great cost, both to them- 
selves and their owners. As mUk is manufactured in the 
body of the cow, so wax is manufactured in the bodies 
of bees. It is both a secretion and excretion of bees. In 
collecting honey, bees cany it in their bags ; and when 
they wish to make wax and build combs, some of the 
honey goes into their intestinal canals, passes into the 
iuices of their bodies, and scales of wax ooze from, or are 
excreted on the under sides of, their bellies. Wax, then, 
is a homespun article, wholly made by the bees them- 
selves. Dr Liebig, in the appendix to his great work on 
' Animal Chemistry,' says that " bees have to consume 
20 lb. of honey to make 1 lb. of wax, and 1 oz. of comb 
holds 1 lb. of honey." We do not vouch for the accuracy 
of Liebig's calculations or experiments ; but they are 
stated merely to show that wax costs the bee-keeper a 
great deal more than he gets for it in the market. But 
we are not quite sure that 20 lb. of honey are consumed 
in the manufacture of 16 oz. of wax. A swarm was put 
into an empty hive. This swarm, hive, and board would 

WAX. 31 

■weigh about 17 lb. In seven days it weighed 45 lb,, and 
was filled with combs. These combs, pure and simple, 
would weigh about 2 lb. If 40 lb. of honey were con- 
sumed in their production, the gathering of this swarm 
was enormous. Liebig's experiments were honestly made, 
and the results honestly recorded : but no close observer 
of comb-building in bee-hives will admit that they are, 
or ever can be, conclusive in their character ; because the 
experiments were made with about 10 oz. of bees — a 
mere handful. Both the weather and the warmth of a 
hive have a great influence in comb-building. 

Dr Liebig says that it takes thirty- eight hours to 
convert honey into wax — that is to say, that the laminae, 
or thin plates of wax, do not appear on the belhes of bees 
till thirty-eight hours after the honey has been taken into 
their intestines. This surely is not correct; for bees that 
are driven into a hive at six o'clock of a summer evening 
often commence to build combs before six o'clock next 
morning. And if no combs be formed or visible then, 
there may be seen the laminae or flakes of wax lying on 
the board beneath the swarm. The making or secreting 
of wax is voluntary on the part of the bees ; and this is 
one of the secrets of bee-history that can never be fath- 
omed, and must remain veiled for ever from the ken of 
mortals. Bees do not secrete wax when their hives are 
filled with combs ; but remove the bees into an empty 
one, and in less than twelve hours they build one or two 
pieces of comb. 

As honey from one kind of plant differs in taste from 
that of another kind of plant, so wax differs in colour if 
different kinds of honey are used in its manufacture. 

Wax is made from treacle or syrup as weU as from 
honey ; but the combs made from these are more brittle 
than those made from honey. 

In the covers or Uds of brood-cells there will be no- 


ticed ttis fact, that they are always like the cells they 
cover : the cells of dark comhs get lids of the same col- 
our, and white combs have white lids. Doubtless part 
of the old combs are used in the manufacture of lids ; 
but why it is so used, or why bees will have lids and 
combs of the same colour, has ever appeared a very re- 
markable thing. 

In Professor Liebig's remarks on wax, there is another 
statement which is not absolutely correct. He says 
combs are never built in a hive unless the bees have the 
presence or prospect of a queen. Now we have seen 
a second swarm that lost its queen a day or two after 
being hived, half fill its hive with combs, chiefly of the 
drone kind. 

The question of wax-making and comb-building is a 
very important and interesting one in the history of a 
bee-hive, and at present, little is with certainty known 
about it. In comb-building, bees are wonderfully frugal 
in the use of wax. We guess that not more than 2 lb. of 
it are used in the construction of 80,000 cells. It is a 
very inflammable substance, containing, as it does, more 
than 80 per cent of carbon. 



This is the pollen of flowers. Bees can with great ease 
gather it, and carry it home in pellets sticking on their 
hind-legs. Of course the colour of pollen is different in 
different kinds of flowers. Anciently it was considered 
crude wax, and even now some novices think it is made 


into wax. It is used principally for feeding maggots in 
their cells, and hence it is termed " bee-bread." 

If it were used in comb - building, swarms put into 
empty hives would gather much of it ; but we find that 
all such swarms do not gather any pollen for some days, 
or till some combs are built to contain it. In most hives 
it is stored in their centres where the young are hatched ; 
and often there is stored far too much of it. Though 
some seasons are remarkable for tha abundance of bee- 
bread stored up, and though some hives have more than 
others, it is never in Great Britain a scarce article in 
hives of bees. The hive that has fewest cells filled, or 
half filled with it, is generally the most prosperous — all 
other things being equal. Bees do not eat it, and will 
die of starvation with a superabundance of it in their 



Propolis is a kind of cement used in hives to fiU up all 
holes and cracks, and prevent unnecessary ventilation. 
It is a substance not absolutely necessary to the well- 
being of a hive ; but, doubtless, the bees derive benefit 
from using it, otherwise they would not collect it. It is 
a sort of lesin or gum, sometimes called bee-glue, and is 
collected from the buds of poplar and other trees. It is 
a harder substance than either wax or bee-bread. 

Water is largely used in the height of the breeding 
season. It is used with bee-bread in feeding young bees. 
It is collected in dewy mornings, and after showers, from 



blades of grass and tlie leaves of plants. In tlie absence of 
showers and dew, bees resort to brooks, rivers, and water- 
tubs for it, often preferring tbe impure water from manure- 
heaps. The sight of bees seeking and sipping water, is a 
proof that breeding is going on in their hives. During 
inclement weather, when not a particle of honey can be 
obtained, bees often venture out for water. 




We now come to tiie practical part of our -work ; and our 
aim is to make tiie reader understand everything neces- 
sary to the successful and profitable management of bees. 
This book is not written for the benefit of the advanced 
students of bee-history and apiculture, but to instruct the 
most ignorant to manage bees intelligently and well. It 
is Cobbett who says that all books should be written for 
the benefit of those who are ignorant of the subject of 
which they treat. The reader is requested to remember, 
that our stating certain facts and opinions will not make 
him, or anybody else, an intelligent bee-master, unless his 
mind be fully convinced and held captive by the reason- 
ableness of such statements. All is to be weighed in the 
balance of his own reason, and whatever is found light 
and wanting should be cast aside. By the formation of 
correct and comprehensive ideas in apiculture, the reader 
win be able to guide his own industry, and rise to a 
position superior to those who follow and imitate others. 
Let aU remember that those who foUow are always 




It is not whicli garden, but which place in the garden, 
shall the bees occupy? Every bee-keeper consults his 
own convenience in the choice of a spot on which to 
place his bee-hives. Near the door, or in front of a win- 
dow, from which the swarms can be seen, is generally 
preferred by cottagers ; for they have not much time to 
lose in watching for swarms leaving their hives. So far 
as honey-gathering goes, one corner of the garden will 
answer as well as another. It does not matter much, if 
anything at all, whether the hives look east or west, north 
or south. Hives placed in the centre of a wood or small 
forest, where the rays of the sun never reach them, thrive 
as well as those placed outside to bask in his smiles all 
day long. 

A sheltered comer, with an open front, and at some 
distance from ponds or sheets of water, is perhaps the 
best possible in any neighbourhood for bees. If hives 
are placed in an exposed and bleak situation, or near 
sheets of water, high winds do some harm to their bees. 
Bees with heavy loads are fatigued when they return to 
their hives, and therefore it is desirable to let them enter 
as safely and speedily as possible. If driven to the 
ground by the violence of the wind, they sustain a rueful 
shock, and have to rest a considerable time before they 
can rise, perhaps to be driven down a second time. Still, 
practically and experimentally considered, the advantages 
of sheltered places are of small importance. If the pas- 
ture of the neighbourhood be good, bees wUl do well 
wheresoever placed. On the housetop and bleak hillside, 


underneath the hedgerow and in an open field, we have 
found them to thrive exceedingly. We have seen them 
placed amid lofty houses, where they were compelled to 
rise to their tops in short spiral turns, and drop down 
about as perpendicularly as a bucket in a well, and yet in 
this position collect from 4 lb. to 6 lb. per hive every fine 
day. Bees have wits enough to make the most of every 
position. A warm sheltered place is, however, recom- 
mended for the home of bees. 

How far should hives be off the ground, and how far 
asunder t 

We think 8 inches above the ground is quite enough, 
and most of our hives are never more than 6 inches 
above the level of the ground. Is the health of the bees 
not affected when placed so near the earth 1 Bees are as 
healthy when placed 2 inches above the ground as when 
placed 20 inches. If hives are raised 2 and 3 feet, the 
bees, when heavily burdened, often miss the flight-board 
on their return from the fields, and thus come unexpect- 
edly to the ground ; and, by reason of the sudden and 
severe shake, do not rise for some time — and some are 
chilled to death ere they gain nerve and resolution enough 
to make another attempt. If an elevated position has any 
advantages at all, we have failed to learn what they are. 
Three posts, about 15 inches long, driven half their 
length into the ground, answer well for a stand for one 
hive. These posts are driven into the ground about 15 
inches apart, and the front one a little lower than the two 
behind, so as to make the water run off the flight-board, 
and not into the hive. Three round stones or river 
bullets, half buried in the soil, answer as well as the 
posts. Some bfie-keepers are of opinion that bee-hives 
are like corn-stalks — if not placed high above the ground, 
vermin will go in and eat their treasures. A very little 
schooling wiU teach bee-keepers how to keep mice out of 


their hives, without hoisting them aloft on ugly single 

Hives should he placed as far asunder as convenience 
permits. When we come to the chapter on artificial 
swarming, it will he seen that 6 feet distance hetween 
stock-hives is little enough. Many reasons could be 
given in favour of some distance being left between hive 
and hive. 

But where many hives are kept, would you place them 
aU over the garden ? No, if economy of space and com- 
pactness of appearance are objects aimed at. Besides, it 
is possible to place a great number of hives within small 
compass, and be free from all danger of mistaken visits, or 
molestation of any kind, from the bees belonging to each. 
Many of our hives are removed, in spring, to cottage and 
market gardens in the country. We pay rent for a small 
space, and make it answer well. The following represen- 
tation will show the reader how ten hives can be safely 
placed on a spot not much larger than a dining-room 

Here every hive is separate from the rest, and so placed 
that there can be no mistakes made by the bees as to 
their own hives ; but there is not room between them to 
hold a swarm from each hive without risk. 

As there is a peculiar smeU in each hive of bees, which 


appears to be the bond of union in tbe community of it, 
— bees knowing each other by smell — the intelligent bee- 
master will keep his hives as far asunder as he conveni- 
ently can, or sufficiently far to prevent the peculiarity 
from being lost. Close proximity may destroy it. 

Bee-houses are very expensive and inconvenient. All 
bee-masters of experience consider them a hindrance to 
good management, and objectionable in many senses. We 
have nothing to say in their favour, save that they help 
to protect hives from the severity of winter storms. To 
say more about bee-houses in a work on the profitable 
management of bees would be a work of supererogation. 



It is beUeved that a twenty-acre field of grass, well 
sprinkled with the flowers of white clover, yields to bees 
every fine day at least 100 lb. of honey, and strongly 
scents the air as well ; and that twenty acres of heather 
in flower yield 200 lb. of honey per day. If this cal- 
culation is correct (and we think it is), who will ven- 
ture to estimate and give the sum total of all the counties 
of Great Britain and Ireland? We remember being 
startled at the statement of a citizen of Manchester, in a 
paper which he read before the British Association for 
the Advancement of Science, when that Association met 
in that city some years ago. I forget the title of the 
paper, but the subject of it was the poisonous exhalations 
of the town. The number of tons of carbonic acid gas 
constantly passing off into the atmosphere was named — a 


number great enough to quicken the attention of all 
sanitary reformers, and the movements of the Corpora- 
tion of Manchester. But who can accurately weigh or 
numher the millions upon millions of pounds of honey 
that pass away (ungathered) into the atmosphere 1 Who 
can estimate the millions of pounds' worth of honey thus, 
wasted on the " desert air " ? 

But is it not possible to overstock a given locality or 
parish with bees ? Yes ; though we have never known 
one overstocked. We have seen from fifty to one hun- 
dred hives standing in one garden, the stronger of which 
gathered from 2 lb. to 5 lb. each per day in fine weather. 

But are aU localities equally good for bees 1 No ■ 
there is a great difference. Some are very much more 
honeyed than others ; and some are rich at one period of 
the season and poor at another. 

It is perhaps beyond the powers of the most observant 
and best-informed mind in the realm to name every plant 
in this country that yields honey. The number of such 
plants is very great ; but as there are some of greater 
value to bees than others, we will now mention those 
which we consider the best for bees. 

Crocuses in early spring receive great attention from 
bees. Much pollen and some honey are collected from 
their flowers. 

In some places there are certain kinds of willow (salix), 
which bear yellow flowers in spring, much visited by bees. 

The border hyacinths of our gardens — the same sort 
that are forced to decorate and scent our conservatories — 
furnish bees with many a sweet mouthfuL 

Single wallflowers — grown largely in some localities for 
cut-flowers and seed — are excellent for bees. 

The flowers of gooseberry and plum trees are super- 
excellent, yielding honey of the finest quality in great 


Apple, pear, and currant trees are of great value to 
bees, fumisMng them with rich and large stores of 

Almond, cherry, peach, and apricot are also honey-yield- 
ing plants. 

Field-nmstard (Sinapis arvensls), which is a weed, 
superahounding in some districts, frequently covering 
our corn-fields with its yellow flowers, is an invaluable 
thing for bees. In Yorkshire and Derbyshire this plant 
is called ketlock, in Lanarkshire it is called slcelloch, and in 
Wigtownshire it is termed ranches. Here, in Lancashire 
and Cheshire, it is called t\i& yellow flower. It continues 
a long time in flower, and the honey gathered from it is 
clear, and soon crystallises. The flowers of turnip, cabbage, 
and all the brassica tribe, like those of field-mustard, are 
exceedingly tempting to bees. 

The flowers of field-beans are about as rich in honey as 
they can be. There is some mystery as to the means em- 
ployed, to extract it from bean-flowers, which are tubular 
in shape, and of considerable thickness and depth. The 
honey, of course, lies at the bottom of these — deeper than 
the length of a bee's proboscis. The tubes are pierced or 
tapped near their bottoms, and through the holes thus 
made the bees extract much rich treasure. It has been 
said that bees are unable to pierce the tubes of the 
flowers, and that the holes are made by humble-bees, 
which have greater powers. No one can watch humble 
or earth bees at work in a fleld of beans, and remain in 
doubt they do some work iu this way. They push their 
trunks through the petals of the flowers with a view to 
reach their honey ; but the question is. Can bees make 
holes for themselves ? "We have never seen a honey-bee 
make a hole through the petals of a bean- flower ; but, from 
the scarcity of humble-bees in some neighbourhoods 
where the flowers of many acres of beans are found well 


pierced, we 'believe that the "jemmies" of our own 
friends are used for breaking through the thick walls of 

Maple, sycamore (ov plane), and lime trees are of great 
value to the bee-farmer. Maples are not so abundant in 
this country as sycamores and limes. Honey is not dis- 
tilled (does not drop) from the flowers of the sycamore, but 
it literally lies on them, and is clammy and sticky to the 
touch of human hands. It continues a long time in 
flower, coming into flower before apple-blossoms disappear, 
and lasting tOl white clover is in bloom. 

The strong scent of lime-trees in flower, and the music 
of bees busy at work on them, indicate that an abundance 
is collected from them in the month of July. 

Wimberry, raspberry, and brambleberry deserve honour- 
able mention as honey-produeing plants. 

Borage, mignonette, 'heliotrope, huclcwheat, birdi-foot 
trefoil (Lotus aorniculatus), gorse, broom, and wild thyme, 
are all honey-plants, and useful in their day. 

White or Dutch clover is the queen of honey-plants. 
It is widely cultivated in this country, and continues to 
flower a long time. In Scotland the farmers use more 
clover-seed in laying down land in grass than the farmers 
of England ; hence the clover-fields are, generally speak- 
ing, better there than here. The use of bone-dust and lime 
as manure has a great influence in the production of 

Pastures eaten bare by cattle are, of course, not so good 
for honey as those less severely eaten. Sheep are fonder 
of clover than cattle, and are more able to nibble off its 
young heads ; hence sheep-pasture is inferior in a honey 
point of view to cow-pasture. 

Clover is perhaps more uncertain in its yield of honey 
than most other plants, inasmuch as it is more easily 
affected by cold nights. Some years ago, a stock-hive from 


■whicli one swarm only was obtained, was weighed every 
morning during the hot weather of July. On the 17th 
and 18th it gained 12 lb. in weight, next two days only 
4 lb., and on the following day it gained 4 lb. The dif- 
ference of the weight of honey gathered was attributed 
to the variation of night temperature, for one day was as 
hot as the other. 

Heather-blossoms, during the months of August and 
September, yield a harvest of honey prodigiously and 
marvellously large. This is so well known, that in Scot- 
land and some parts of the Continent, there may be seen 
cartloads of bee-hives going to grouse-land. Bee-masters 
find that there is an ample return for the trouble and 
expense of taking bees to the moors, even though the 
distance be thirty or forty miles. 

On no spot of Scotland can it be said that heather is 
not within easy distance of it, so that all Scottish bee- 
keepers can avail themselves of the honey that is so 
abundantly produced by its pinky-purplish blooms. To 
me it appears wonderful that in England we have heather 
enough for all the bees in the world. In Yorkshire there 
are magnificent seas of it. On the hills of Derbyshire 
and Cheshire, within twenty miles of Manchester, we find 
miles of heather excellent for bees. In both Staffordshire 
and Warwickshire, heather in abundance may be found. 
In the south, we find large tracts of heather in Devon, 
Surrey, Hampshire, and Sussex. In Ireland, "Wales, and 
the northern counties of England, it is as abounding as it 
is in Scotland. 

All plants grown on warm well-drained soils yield more 
honey than those grown on cold heavy land. Even in the 
case of heather this is true. In ordinary seasons heathery 
hiUs yield more honey than heathery swamps. And the 
good sense of every bee-master will tell him that hilly 
exposed pastures and districts are better in showery 


seasons for honey tlian flat and sheltered ones. We have 
known hives placed in hiUy districts increase in weight 
in such seasons ; whereas those standing in low sheltered 
places could scarcely keep themselves, the flowers there 
being hardly ever dry. 

How far will Bees go for Honey 1 

This question we cannot answer with accuracy. Our 
experience in this matter goes dead against the wonderful 
stories that are told in some books. We read of bees fly- 
ing four, seven, and twelve miles for food ! Our bees wiU 
perish and die for want of food within three miles of good 
pasture. Our bees here never find the hundreds of acres 
of heather which cover Carrington Moss within three miles 
of them. In iine sunshiny weather bees go farther from 
home than they do in dark cloudy weather. But even in 
the best and brightest of weather in June and July, very 
few, if any, find their way home to their old stand if 
removed three miles off. Moreover, the return of some 
bees does not prove that they travel three miles in search 
of food. It proves that some of them go a little more than 
one mile and a half from home, and finding themselves on 
known pastures within one mUe and a half of the old place, 
they return thither, forgetting, as it were, where they last 
came from. I am therefore of opinion that very few bees 
go more than two miles for food. 

It is very desirable to have bees near the pasture on 
which they work. Short journeys are not only a saving 
of labour to bees, but also a protection of their lives. 
When compelled to fly far for honey they are often caught 
by showers and destroyed. In warm genial weather, with 
a superabundance of honey in flowers, bees will have it. 
They go beyond the bounds of safety for it. Gentle 
showers do not stop outdoor labourers. Black clouds 

HIVES. 45 

often send them hurriedly home ; but they are frequently 
caught, and die on the altar of their industry. Hives con- 
taining 8 lb. and 10 lb. of bees have lost two-thirds of their 
ranks by sudden showers in warm honey weather. Bees 
driven to the earth by showers do not die at once. If the 
following day be warm and fair, the rays of the sun some- 
times reanimate these storm-beaten creatures, and enable 
them to return to their hives. 



As we have now come to the most important chapter of 
the book, it is hoped that all readers seeking profit from 
bee-keeping will try to go through it in the light of common - 
sense. Bees ever have been, and ever will be, profitable 
to their owners, when well managed. Many bee-keepers 
in England are fifty years behind the day, and have yet 
to learn the first principles of profitable management. 
Agriculture has made great advancement during the 
last half-century — so has horticulture ; and they are not 
going to stand still now. But apiculture, alas ! has 
made but poor progress. What hinders it 1 When the 
astronomer discovered and reported the fact that the 
planet Uranus loitered in one part of his orbit, it was an 
act of common-sense on the part of another man to push 
his telescope towards that part in order to find out the 
hindering cause. He was thus successful in discovering 
another immense planet (Neptune) lying far behind, the 
attractive influence of which is so great as to impede and 
hinder Uranus in his course round the sun. Now there 


is sometlimg whicli hinders many bee-keepers from making 
as much honey, or money, as they ought. More than 
tweuty-iive years ago we told them that all the books that 
were ever written, and all that we could possibly say, 
would never put them on the highroad to the successful 
and profitable management of bees unless they kept large 

We are weU aware that it is a difficult matter to remove 
prejudices of long standing. When water outs its own 
channel it runs along it, year after year. To a large extent 
bee-keeping has done the same. We are glad to see and 
know that a great alteration is now taking place. The 
adoption of large hives by many bee-keepers has enabled 
them to double their profits, and given a great impulse to 
bee-keeping in their neighbourhoods and counties. The 
use of such hives by one or two bee-masters of intelligence 
and ability in every county would, in process of time, 
revolutionise apiculture throughout England. 

Having far more confidence in the power of facts and 
figures than in that of logic and argumentation for con- 
vincing men that large hives, well managed, are incompar- 
ably better than small ones, we have of late recorded the 
results of bee-keeping in our native village, where hives 
are of considerable dimensions. These records have 
already stimulated the attention of many apiarians 
throughout the country, and their pluck and energy 
are now in full play. Tf the weight of Carluke swarms 
rise up to 100 lb., 130 lb., and 150 lb. each, according 
to the season, why should not swarms elsewhere rise 
to the same weight? In 1864, the weights of an old 
hive and its two swarms, belonging to Mr Eobert Eeid, 
Carluke, were published in. the ' Hamilton Advertiser ' of 
that year : — 

HIVES. 47 

' Old stock, or mother, was 92 lb. weight. 
First swarm from it, 160 „ „ 

Second swarm, 76 „ „ 

Altogether, 328 lb. weight." 

In the year 1865, the first swarms at Carluke weighed 
about 90 lb. each while on the clover ; but after being 
taken to the moors many of them lost weight, owing to 
the weather being unfavourable for gathering honey. 

The heaviest swarm of 1866 at Carluke was 148 lb. 

The account of the success of 1868 came to us in a 
letter from our friend Mr Eeid, part of which we shall 
here quote : — 

" Cablukb, 25iA Sept. 1865. 

" My deab Feiend, — We brought our bees home from 
the moors the week before last ; the weather being fine, 
we thought they would be gaining weight, but were 
wrong. Henshilwood got his home about ten days before 
us. During that time ours lost each 8 lb. and 10 lb. in 
weight. Our heaviest swarm was 112 lb.— another about 
6 lb. lighter. Our best second swarm was 75 lb. 

" Robert Scouler had three first swarms, which were 
about 120 lb. each. His best was 130 lb. 

" John Jack had two stocks in spring, which did better 
than most. One first swarm weighed 161 lb., another 
104 lb., and a second swarm 68 lb. I have not heard of 
the weights of the old ones, but he took 230 lb. of honey 
from the produce of his two stocks. 

" Samuel Dempster had two also in spring. His first 
swarms weighed respectively 110 lb. and 148 lb. Hen- 
shilwood had one 168 lb., and my brother one 130 lb. 

" P.S. — Scouler had two seconds, one of which weighed 
80 lb. and the other 90 lb.— Yours truly, 

" Egbert Rbid." 


Mr Eeid's letter containing some of the results of 1869 
has already appeared in print, in connection with our own 
balance-sheet, which appears annually : — 

" Cakmjkb, 5th Oct. 1869. 
" Mt dear old Friend, — I beg to be excused for not 
replying to your note sooner, but I waited till I got my 
bees home from the moors, and the honey taken from 
them. I jarred it aU up yesterday, and find that out of 
ten hives we have taken upwards of 400 lb. of honey. 
The heaviest hive was 120| lb., two or three of them 
about 90 lb. each, the rest from 60 lb. to 70 lb. each. 
We had three boxes of honeycomb, which realised 27s.; 
and one second swarm, 80 lb. weight, was sold for £2, 2s. 
The above is the produce of six stock-hives ; so you see 
the bees have done well with us this season.- — Yours 
truly, E. E." 

In 1869, the heaviest swarm in the parish was 128 
lb. And an old widowed aunt of the author got 250 
lb. of honey from four stocks. 

These facts and figures are quoted with the view of 
stimulating the attention of bee-keepers generally. "We 
are of opinion that agricultural and horticultural exhibi- 
tions do more to advance the sciences of farming and 
gardening than the teaching of books and periodicals ; 
and we fancy that example, even in bee-keeping, is better 
than precept. When we resolved to write a book on bees 
for pubhcation, we sent the following three questions to 
bee-keepers in many counties : 1. What is the general 
size of hives used in your county ? 2. What time does 
swarming commence 1 3. In good seasons what weight 
are first swarms at harvest-time ? 

Our correspondent near Norwich, in Norfolk, says : 
" The hives here are rather smaller than usual ; the middle 

HIVES. 49 

of May is a good time for early swarms ; and at th.e end 
of the season a good stock may weigh, only one stone. 
This may surprise you, but some are not half that 

From Yorkshire, a gentleman at Hull answered the 
questions as foUows : " The size of hives used here- 
abouts contain 1300 cubic inches, and swarm about the 
first week in June. As to the general weight, that de- 
pends on the management of them. The most I have 
ever taken from a swarm was 32 lb.'' 

From Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, we learn that 
" the first week in June is the time of generaL swarming ; 
the size of the hives about 12 inches deep and 12 wide ; 
and the weight of swarms at the end of the season depends 
on the summer. If not much rain to stop their work, a 
good swarm ought to weigh 30 lb." 

Our informant in Cornwall, near Launceston, says : 
" In favourable and pleasant spots, bees begin to rise 
from the 16th to the 20th of May ; but the time of gene- 
ral swarming is the first and second week of June. The 
size of hives in use is, I think, about 14 inches diameter 
and 1 1 inches deep. The average weight in good seasons 
is about 28 lb., hive and combs together ; the heaviest 
I have ever known was 35 lb. Taking one year with 
another, the average produce of a hive is about one gallon 
of honey. In the parts of Devonshire which I have 
visited, bees appeared to be treated much as we treat 
ours, the hives being a little less, if anything." 

In Lincolnshire, swarming generally takes place from 
the 10th to the 20th of June ; hives 12 inches diameter 
and 8 or 9 inches deep ; and the weight of good swarms 
ranges from 30 lb. to 45 lb. 

" We think," says our Devonshire correspondent, " 25 
lb. to 30 lb. a good weight for swarms in common hives ; 
I have known some 50 lb., but this is rare. I do not 


think your figures could be approached in this county 
with hives of any size." 

We happen to think differently of Devonshire, and he- 
lieve that if large hives were introduced and properly 
managed in that splendid county, the honey harvests 
would be enormous. Instead of swarms being rarely 50 
lb. each, they would often be 100 lb., and sometimes 150 
lb. each. 

Let us now go to Northumberland, where we are told 
" that the time of general swarming is the month of 
June, but some early swarms are obtained about the 18th 
of May. The general size of the hive here is 15 inches 
in diameter and 12 inches deep ; and the best hives at 
the end of an average season contain from 25 lb. to 35 
lb. of honey." Northumberland is a long way in ad- 
vance of any other county south of the Tweed that has 
responded to our questions. 

Ayrshire, Perthshire, Wigtownshire, and Mid-Lothian, 
are about on a par with Northumberland. No answers to 
our questions came from Ireland and Wales. 

" Now, come back to the parish of Carluke, and tell us 
if you think that the great success of the bee-keepers 
there is owing altogether to the use of large hives.'' No, 
not altogether. A great measure of their success comes 
from good management. But good management, without 
large hives, wUl not end in great results — large hives be- 
ing the basis or foundation of success, and good manage- 
ment the superstructure. They go hand iu hand, though 
they stand in the relation of parent and child ; and when- 
ever the inteUigent bee-keepers of this country adopt and 
use large hives, they will be utterly astounded at their 
former blindness in this matter. 

A queen bee lays about 2000 eggs every day in the 
height of the season. She lays as many in a small hive 
as she does in a large one : but in a smaU one there are 

HIVES. 51 

not empty cells for 500 eggs a-day ; and therefore 1500 
eggs are destroyed in some way daily. The bees must 
either eat them or cast them out. Now, suppose the bees 
were allowed to set and hatch all these eggs, how much 
more numerous the population would be, how much more 
honey would be collected, and how much larger the swarms 
sent off would be too ! 

On former occasions, when we have been trying to 
make bee-keepers think, we asked them to consider the 
foUy of a farmer's wife expecting large eggs from bantam 
hens. And we ventured to predict that if Shetland ponies 
only were used by farmers, agriculture would speedily 
collapse — nay, it never would have advanced to its pre- 
sent state, commanding' the energies of our best men. 
^Yithout the muscle and strength of the fine horses of 
the Suffolk, Clydesdale, and other breeds, what would 
agriculture have been ? "Would it be worth the attention 
of men of skill and energy ? So it is, and so it will be, 
with bees kept in smaU hives. They are hardly worth 
the attention they require ; and the profits from them 
will never call out that enthusiastic energy and latent 
power which, put in play, make the most of everything. 
Of course, apiculture is a thing of trifling importance to 
agriculture ; but we hold that the general adoption of 
large hives would bring about a reform and revolution in 
bee-management, that would confer large and lasting bless- 
ings on the rural populations of this and other countries. 

But let us return once more to the hives that weighed 
from 100 lb. up to 168 lb. Why, it would take three 
ordinary English hives, if not more, to hold as much 
honey as was in one of these hives — it would take three 
or more of them to hold bees enough to gather as much 
in the same space of time. 

It is not necessary to say half so much in favour of 
large hives to minds unwarped and unprejudiced ; but as 


almost all writers on bees, ancient and modern, have re- 
commended for use hives tmprofitably small, we have the 
hard and painful task to perform of nullifying, in some 
degree, the influence of their opinions, ere we can success- 
fully recommend the general adoption of hives profitably 

The Materials of Hives. 

Straw hives, well sewed with split canes or bramhle- 
briers, are incomparably better for bees than any other 
kind of hive yet introduced. Nothing better is needed, 
and we believe nothing better wUl ever be found out. 
On the score of cheapness and neatness, lightness and 
convenience, suitability and surpassing worth, we advise 
aU bee-keepers seeking large returns in honey to use noth- 
ing but straw hives as domiciles for bees. 

Hives made of wood, at certain seasons of the j-'ear 
condense the moisture arising from the bees, and this 
condensed moisture rots the combs. The walls of a 
wooden hive are often like the walls of a very damp or 
new-plastered house. The outside combs, and sometimes 
the inside combs too, perish before the wet walls of 
wooden hives. They perish in this sense, that their 
nature or adhesive power goes like mortar in walls, and 
becomes as rotten as burnt paper. All such combs are 
worse than useless in hives; for bees cannot use them for 
either honey or brood, or even as the foundations for 
fresh combs. They have to be taken down and new 
ones put in their places. There is in this work of the 
bees a waste of both time and honey. 

But how can you account for the use of boxes as bee- 
hives in this country at all ? Well, the great bulk of 
straw hives of English make are exceedingly small and 
ill made ; they are unsightly, and comparatively not 
worth one shilling a dozen. Many bee-keepers, finding 


them unsatisfactory, have invented hives of wood. Of 
course, everybody loves his own offspring, and likes to 
see it bear a good name, and be recognised in society. 
Every invention is a grand affair! Both architect and 
builder join hands in holding forth an article decidedly 
superior to all that has gone before ! And what was be- 
gun in honest effort ends in full-fledged quackery. And 
hundreds, ignorant of bee-science, are induced to purchase 
these costly hives, which, in their own turn,, are found so 
unsatisfactory, that purchasers think they wiU never be 
duped again. Another invention turns up in the shape 
of a costly hive — to be managed on the " depriving " or 
humane system ! Many, again, are bewitched by the very 
name of the last invention, and spend their money for 
hives which the writer would not accept as a gift. 

It appears from Mr Quinby's book on bees, that in 
America the new inventions in bee-hives are more nume- 
rous than they are here, and are well patented and pat- 
ronised. After showing the worthlessness of many patent 
hives, Mr Quinby says, " that in Europe the same ingen- 
uity is displayed in twisting and torturing the bee, to 
adapt her unnatural tenements, invented not because the 
bee needs them, but because this is a means available for 
a little change. Patent men have found the people gene- 
rally ignorant of apiarian science. Let us hope that their 
days of prosperity are about numbered." 

Mr Quinby, who is one of the largest bee-keepers in 
the world, and president of the American Apiarian So- 
ciety, knows well that common hives are the best, and 
that straw is better than wood as material for hives. At 
page 300 of his book he says, " I shall greatly err in my 
judgment if straw, as a material for hives, does not re- 
gain its former position in public favour." " We have," 
Mr Quinby says, " faithfully supported a host of specu- 
lators on our business for a long time, often not caring 


one straw about out success after pocketing the fee, of 
successful humbuggery." 

In making these quotations and statements, we know 
that the prejudices of some of our readers, and the selfish- 
ness of others, wiU be offended. We are sorry for this, 
but we cannot help it. 

It is well known that in fine seasons for honey, there 
are considerable profits derived from the produce of smaU 
hives ; but we wish the reader to know that in such 
favourable seasons the produce and profits from large 
hives, weU managed, are incomparably larger. The 
writer's father once realised X20 profit from two hives 
in one season, and £9, 12s. from another, held jointly by 
him and James Brown of the same place. The profits 
came from the honey gathered by the bees, not from 
swarms sold at an exorbitant price, a practice common 
in our day. 

Since the first edition of this work was published, we 
have received some hundreds of letters from the mansions 
of the rich and the cottages of the poor, intimating how 
well its lessons have been learned, and the great success 
and satisfaction that have been realised from putting them 
iuto practice. In the township in which we live (we 
might venture to say the county), swarms were never 
known to rise beyond 40 lb. each till our teaching and 
example were followed. The best swarms last year (1874, 
which was not a very good one) rose to 100 lb. each — 
quite equal to those of Carluke last year. 

The adoption of large hives by many of the bee-keepers 
of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire put them last year in the 
van of the advancing hosts. In a private letter which 
lies before us, it is stated that the first swarms obtained 
last year about -the 1st of July rose to great weights. 
One belonging to Mr Gordon rose to 164 lb. Swarms 
belonging to other bee-keepers rose to 128 lb., 126 lb., 


120 lb., 109 lb., 104 lb. Mr George Campbell got four 
swarms from one hive ; their united weight (including 
the mother hive, which was 93 lb.) was 373 lb. The profit 
from this hive must have been very great. 

The question of sizes and shapes we now come to con- 
sider. Three sizes have been recommended: the iirst, 
20 inches wide by ] 2 inches deep, inside measure ; the 
second, 18 inches by 12 inches deep ; and the third size, 
16 inches wide by 12 inches. 

The first size contains about 3000 cubic inches ; the 
second size, about 2700 cubic inches ; and the third size, 
about 2000 cubic inches. We say about, for hives are 
sometimes made convex or round in the crown; and when 
this is done, the cube measure will be lessened somewhat. 
It is not expected that bee-keepers will be guided to the 
adoption of hives corresponding exactly with the sizes 
given above, but it is hoped that they wiU adopt and use 
hives after their own models, equal in dimensions to the 
second and third sizes. We use two sizes only in our 
own apiary — viz., the 16 and 18 inch hives — because 
three sizes necessitate a like number of boards and ekes, 
and our aim is to manage bees with the least possible 
expense and trouble. But in future our 16 and 18 inch 
hives wUl be made 14 inches deep — that is, nearly one- 
sixth larger than they are at present. In fine seasons 
these hives will need to be enlarged by ekes or supers. 
Enlarging hives by ekes is mentioned now with a view to 
let the reader see the wisdom of fixing on certain sizes for 
his hives — at least the width of his hives — so that enlarge- 
ment may be easy when necessary 

Ahive 20 x 12, well filled, weighs 100 lb. ; one 18 x 12, 
80 lb. ; and the 16-inch hive weighs about 50 lb. These 
figures are meant to give the reader an approximate idea — 
not an accurate one — of the contents of the hives recom- 
mended. In the months of May and June, the hives would 


be at the swarming-point before tbey reacted tbe weights 
here mentioned ; and in the autumn of favourable seasons 
they would probably go from 14 lb. to 20 lb. beyond these 
weights without the bees ever thinking of swarming. 
How much honey can they gather per day 1 That greatly 
depends on the state of the atmosphere, the number of 
empty cells in them, and the quantity of brood that re- 
quires attention. Soft warm winds from the south and 
west fill the nectaries of flowers with honey, whereas 
winds from the east and north seem to stanch the flow 
of honey completely. But on good pasture, and with 
favourable weather, healthy 16-inoh hives will gather 
from 2 lb. to 4 lb. of honey per day, and the larger 
sizes from 4 lb. to 7 lb. The hive that gained 20 lb. 
weight in two days was placed in the midst of good pasture, 
when it was 39 lb. weight. It rapidly rose in weight to 
109 lb. The traffic of bees going out and in of this hive 
was graphically described as resembling the steam of a 
tea-kettle going two yards from its mouth before vanish- 
ing amongst thin air. From 3 lb. to 5 lb. of honey 
gathered is, a fair day's work for a good hive. 

But why use the smaller sizes at all when we see that 
the larger size does more work of every kind ? We are 
glad this question has been mooted, for it gives us the 
opportunity of saying that hives of two or three sizes are 
of great advantage to a bee-master who acts on a prin- 
ciple, sound and natural, and with his eye constantly open 
to his own interests. All seasons are not alike favourable, 
and all swarms are not equally large, and some are early 
and some are late in leaving the mother hives. The larger 
sizes are used for large and early swarms ; the smaller 
sizes for small or later swarms. 

The shape of hives may be rather conical at the top, or 
flat-crowned. It is a matter of taste and convenience this. 
Some bee-masters like one sort and some the other ; and 


some skep or hive makers can build Mves each, after his 
own pattern only. We have been accustomed to the use of 
hives rather flat in their crowns, and we prefer them to 
those with conical crowns. 

Here is a straw hive 18 inches by 12. Its sides are 
nearly perpendicular ; its crown rather flat. It has an 
opening 4 inches wide in the crown for a super, and a 
lid to cover that opening when supers are not required. 
The 16-inch hives are made after the same fashion — all 
with holes in their crowns for supers of honeycomb. A 
well-made 18-inch hive weighs about 6 lb., and a 16-inch 
one about 5 lb. when empty. 

When an 18-inch hive receives an eke — say, 4 inches 
deep — it wiU measure 18 x 16, and contain nearly 4000 
cubic inches of space. Now, tell us if a hive of such 
dimensions, well filled with combs, will overtask the 
laying powers of the queen bee 1 No ; we have seen 
larger hives as full of brood as the smallest hive in the 

Before we leave the question of sizes, let us ask our 
readers not to be too hasty in introducing the large si^es 
into their apiaries. Begin with 16 -inch hives; and 
swarms from these will fill the larger sizes. 


The Bar-frame Hive. 

Amongst amateurs and bee-fanciers this hive is rather 
popular at present. Apiarians of this class do not keep 
bees for profit, and they purchase every novelty. Traders 
in bee-hives are constantly offering to the public hives of 
this sort, containing the latest improvements. Though 
■we think the bar-frame hive is very unsuitable for a bee- 
farmer, or for filling the markets of Great Britain with 
honey, we shall here describe, for the sake of those who 
prefer the hive, what we consider are its best and worst 

It is termed " the bar-frame hive " because loose or 
movable bar-frames are hung up inside of it. The bees 
are tempted often to build their combs in the frames ; and 
when they do this in a regular manner, the bar-frames are 
filled with combs, and can be removed from the hive sep- 
arately. In artificial swarming with this kind of hive, 
half of the bees and half of the combs are put into 
another bar-frame hive. There are many ways of artificial 
swarming, but none more unnatural than this. In the 
autumn, when these hives are fiUed with brood and 
honey, some of the combs containing most honey are taken 
and the others left. If the swarming system of manage- 
ment (which is very much the best) be adopted, the 
combs containing most brood in both hives can be fixed 
in one, thus making it a good stock for keeping ; the rest is 
taken for honey. " The American slinger " was invented 
to sHng or cast out honey from bar-combs without destroy- 
ing them. It was introduced into this country recently, 
and has been but partially tested. It can sling out 
flower-honey from combs, but is quite unable to cast 
heather-honey from them. The action and merits of " the 
slinger " will be considered when we come to the chapter 
on honey-taking. 


The advantages of the bar -frame hive are found in 
the fact that the combs, when accurately worked into the 
frames, are movable. The disadvantages are manifold : 
1. Loose bars in hives of bees are both unnatural and 
obstructive. Bees are better architects than their masters, 
and better house - furnishers. Ear - frames are, in the 
nature of things, a hindrance to bees, by being in the 
way of their operations. Man cannot teach bees anything, 
but he can hinder them by placing complications in their 
hives. All other things being equal, the best hives are 
those possessing the least complications ; and the best bee- 
master is he who takes the most hindrances out of their 
way. The results from keeping bees in roomy but simple 
straw hives have never, to our knowledge, been approached 
by any kind of complicated hives. One straw hive and 
its swarms reached the gross weight of 328 lb., another 
373 lb. This last one was in 1874. 

2. Bar-frame hives have no cross-sticks in them to 
steady and support their combs. There wiU therefore be 
some risk run in removing them to the moors, where 
strong hives gather from 30 lb. to 50 lb. of honey each 
in favourable seasons. 

3. They cannot be eked or enlarged to prevent swarm- 
ing. Most bar-frame hives are ready for swarming before 
they are 50 lb. weight apiece, and often bees swarm rather 
than go into supers. Advanced bee-keepers, whose swarms 
in straw hives rise to 100 lb., 120 lb., and 150 lb. each, 
cannot well be tempted to try bar-framers. 

But are the bar-frame hives not useful to the student 
of bee-history ? Yes, very ; for he can take out a bar of 
comb daUy, or as often as he likes, to examine the brood 
in it. And this hive may be useful to those who want a bar 
of honeycomb occasionally, though to us it would be easier 
to cut honeycomb from a common hive, than to unscrew 
the lid and remove it from a bar-framer. 


Here are two comlD-knives, ■wMch are useful on many 
occasions : by using tliem, we can cut easily and speedily 
honeycomlDS from common Mves. The one with chisel 
end is used for cutting the comhs from the sides of hives, 
and splitting them elsewhere. The other is a small rod 
of steel, not more than a quarter of an inch thick, 
with a thin blade at the end 1^ inch long, both edges 
sharp, for cutting the combs from the crowns of the hives, 


or crosswise elsewhere, To those who have a preference 
for bar-frame hives, let us suggest the desirability of 
having them made of straw, neatly and firmly sewed to 
the outer frames, and large enough to hold 13 or 14 bars 
each. It would be no difficult matter to have hives of 
this kind made, more pleasing to the eye, and much better 
every way, than any we have yet seen. An accomplished 
Scotch skep-maker would produce hives that would 
eclipse those made in the south, the straw of which is 
simply laid in so thinly, that any one can put his finger 
through it. 

The latest improvement to the bar-frame hive consists 
in the substitution of " a quilt " for the wooden top. 
The inventor is of course a dealer, and tUl the invention 
was completed, no one heard of the wooden tops being at 
fault. In the language of the inventor, we shall now let 
the reader have a description of the qmlt. He says : "For 
all crown covers, it is the very best for winter use, because 
it permits the escape of all noxious vapours from the hive, 
as soon as they are generated. The quUt arrangement 
comprises a piece of carpet, or other material of hard tex- 


ture, -with a hole in tlie centre for feeding purposes-; two 
or three thicknesses of felt, flannel, or other porous mate- 
rials, each with a hole in its centre of similar size as that 
in the carpet ; a piece of perforated zinc or vulcanite as a 
feeding-stage ; a pad like a kettle-holder to lay upon the 
vulcanite ; a folded sack, hlanket, or rug laid upon the 
whole, — after which the roof may be put on, and should 
be fastened to prevent blowing off. If closely covered, the 
whole arrangement will become sopping wet, simply be- 
cause the vapours cannot escape." 

I think no intelligent bee-keeper, after reading this de- 
scription, will covet or ever purchase such lids ; and it 
grieves one to know that, after discovering the unsuita- 
bUity of wood as material for hives, the inventor has 
not hit upon something better and more sightly than a 
quilt made of carpet, felt, vulcanite, a pad, a folded sack 
or blanket, and a roof. 

This quilt wOl soon be cast aside for something very 
much better. What will it be 1 We cannot tell the reader 
what wiU come next, but we agree with Mr Quinby that 
there is " nothing equal to straw for straining moisture 
out of hives." J£ wood is unsuitable for the crowns or 
tops of hives, it is equally unsuitable for their sides. 

Guide- Combs and Cross-Sticks. 

Guide-combs are simply little bits of clean old comb 
(the older the better) about two inches wide and one or 
two inches deep, fastened to labels, such as are used for 
naming plants. Well, the label and bit of comb are laid 
together, and cemented by dropping between them a little 
melted wax. This is best done by holding a warm poker 
over the two, and touching it with a bit of wax. The 
poker should be just warm enough to melt the wax : if 
too hot, the wax will boil and melt the guide-comb as it 


falls. "When the wood and comb are thus cemented to- 
gether, the -wood is nailed in the crown of an empty hive, 
as a guide to the bees to build their combs running from 
front to back. When the combs are so built, the bees 
can see the door from the centre of the hive, or anything 
going in at the door, which they could not do if the 
combs ran from side to side. 

As soon as the guide-comb is nailed into an empty hive, 
we drive cross-sticks across the hive, from side to side. 
In a 16-inoh hive we use four and five, and in an 18-inch 
hive we use five and six cross-sticks. 

As soon as the combs are well started from the crown 
of the hive, they are securely fastened to the top centre- 
stick ; and as they are enlarged they are cemented to the 
other sticks. The bottom sticks should be at least four 
inches above the board ; for if less, the bees sometimes do 
not close their combs round them. Hives thus sticked 
and filled with combs may be safely removed from one 
end of the country to the other. 

Another advantage of using sticks in hives is this, that 
the bees, being great economists, use them for cross-lanes. 
Where the combs cross the sticks, and are fastened to 
them, the bees leave little holes or doors in the combs, 
which they use as passages from comb to comb. They 
thus shorten their journeys for indoor work. In hives 
without sticks, such byways and convenient passages are 
very rare indeed. 


The Leaf or Vnicomb Hive. 

This may be called " The Ohservatory Hive," for no 
other hive can he compared to it for observation ; and it 
appears to us that no other is necessary. In this hive 
every bee, and all it does, can be seen, as Tvell as all the 
movements of the queen and the attention she receives. 
A square or round hive with glass windows is all but use- 
less for observing what goes on inside. All that can be 
seen in them are some combs and bees next the windows. 
But when there is only one comb with glass on each side 
of it, there is opportunity given for witnessing the inter- 
nal operations of a bee-hive. As the unioomb hive is not 
meant for honey or profit, we need say little about it. 
To those engaged in the investigation of the habits of 
bees, we strongly recommend the use of unicomb hives. 


Boards should be about 1 inch wider than the hives 
standing on them. They are best when made of one 
piece, without seam or junction. But whether made of 
one piece or two, it is necessary to nail two bars of wood 
on the under side of each board, to keep it from warping or 
twisting. The wood of which boards are made should be 
either J or 1 inch thick. 

The flight -boards should be 7 inches in diameter. 
Small flight-boards are objectionable, for bees returning 
with heavy loads often miss them. This is not all ; for 



bees require breathing-room at their doors, as well as a 
broad landing-stage. All birds and insects fill their bodies 
with air before they take wing. A pheasant hops while 
he does this, and a pigeon does it by taking two or three 
deep inspirations. If the pheasant is suddenly disturbed, 
and has to rise without hopping a bit, he does rise, but 
so heavUy and slowly — with a great cackling noise — that 
he is often knocked down by the shot of the sportsman 
ere he gets a fair start. 

If bees haye a broad flight-board they run in and out 

Two boards viarked for sawing out of a deal board. 

The Door of flie Hive. 

Some bee-keepers have channels cut in the boards for 
doors. Where this is done, the flight-boards are uneven 
and unlevel ; but the hives are uncut. We prefer level 
boards, with doors 4 inches wide and 1 inch high cut in 
the hives. Our system of feeding, which will be men- 
tioned hereafter, requires the flight-boards to be level. 




Ill summer as well as winter hives require protection. If 
not shaded from the summer sun, their combs are likely 
to become softened at their fastenings, and drop down in 
confused masses. And it is well when not a drop of rain 
can touch hives either in winter or summer. Of course, 
rains in summer that touch hives do less harm than those 
of winter, inasmuch as the wetted parts are sooner dried 
in hot weather. It may be stated as an axiom, that per- 
fect protection of hives, from both sun and rain, should 
be aimed at in covering them. 

Milk-pans are often used by cottagers in many parts. 
With small hives they answer in summer, but are a most 
unsuitable protection in winter. For cheapness and con- 
venience, anything at hand that wiU shed the rain off 
hives is made use of. Three or four cabbage - blades 
placed on a hive, and held there by a stone, are sometimes 
used tin something better turn up. We now use felt 
(sold at one penny per foot) largely as a covering for our 
hives. It is impervious to water, and very durable ; 
indeed we cannot say how long it will last. The covers of 
felt that we got eight years ago have been in constant use, 
and are still as good as ever they were, and apparently 
will last for an indefinite length of time. These felt covers 
suit also in this respect, that they are light, soft, and pli- 
able. When we remove our hives to better pasture or to the 
moors, the felt covers, being easQy carried, go with them. 

The felt, when first bought, is stiff and hard, but can be 
made as soft as flannel by holding it before the fire for a 
minute or two. When warm and soft it should be fitted 
on the hives. It becomes softer every year. It is rather 



too tliin for a burning sun ; tence it is wise to place some 
hay, heatiier, or rags between the felt and the hives. 

Sods cut off peaty land and dried, are impervious to 
water, and make excellent summer coverings. But straw 
coverings are incomparably the best of all — best for 
summer as well as winter ; and they look better than 
anything else I have seen used as covers for bee-hives. 

Straw Covers, 

A row of well-thatched bee-hives, all nicely clipped, 
standing in a cottage garden, conveys to the mi^d of people 
passing by the idea of comfort and profit. When first 
used the covers should be dipped in water, then fitted on. 
Thus they set and stiffen, and may be lifted off and on 
like a man's hat. In another chapter the reader will be 
urged to use plenty of warm materials beneath the outer 
covering of hives in winter. 



If bees had not been furnished with weapons of de- 
fence, the probability is great that they would have been 
destroyed centuries ago. The treasures of a bee-hive are 


BO tempting to men and brutes, birds, and creeping tbings, 
that it was necessary to provide bees with a means of 
defence — viz., stings and bags of poison, which they can 
use at will. When they receive or anticipate molestation 
they are not slow to make use of their " poisoned arrows ; " 
and every arrow is barbed, so that, if inserted, it sticks 
fast — so fast that it drags the venom-bag attached to it 
from the body of the bee. And after separation from the 
bee, the sting is moved by a self-acting machinery, in- 
tended, no doubt, to empty the entire contents of the 
venom-bag into the part stung ; hence the wisdom of 
withdrawing a sting as soon as it is inflicted or inserted. 

It may be stated here that bees cannot well insert 
their stings till they get hold with their feet, and thus 
apply a small amount of leverage. In many hundreds of 
instances we have saved ourselves by destroying the bees 
before their levers could act. 

Some people are much disfigured by being stung on 
the face ; and the question has been asked, " If these 
people were frequently stung, would the stings continue 
to have as great influence ? " "We cannot answer this 
question with certainty, though we have known men who 
suffered great inconvenience in early life from stings, 
disregard them after a time ; the swelling or inflamma^ 
tory power of stings was comparatively lost on them. 
Some people suffer more from the sting of a nettle than 
of a bee. The sting of a nettle annoys us for many hours, 
whereas the pain from a bee's sting does not last more 
than a minute. 

Those who are liable to swell much on receiving a 
sting should wear a bee-dress when likely to be attacked 
by bees, or when doing anything amongst them. A bee- 
dress is- simply a piece of crape or muslin tied above the 
brim of the hat, to hang over the face, and some inches 
below the chin. The other parts exposed are the hands 


only, which can be protected by gloves. Fortunately we 
do not swell on being stung, and never use a bee-dress of 
any description. When bees attack one, or mean to do 
so, the hands should be spread in front of the face — or, 
better still, a bush held before it — then walk quietly 
away. When bees see the fingers or bush they are afraid 
of an ambuscade — as sparrows are kept from gooseberry- 
buds by the use of thread and string. 

The venom of a bee is so immediate in its action that 
some injury is done, or pain felt, before any remedy can 
be appHed. 



This is a grand invention. About seventy years ago, 
when selling honey in Edinburgh, my father met an 
Irishman, who undertook to teach him how to carry a 
hive of bees, open and exposed, through the streets of 
that city without receiving a single " stong," for a gill of 
whisky. Far too tempting an ofifer this to be rejected 
by my father. He got the secret, and, I presume, the 
Irishman got some whisky for it. The secret was worth all 
the whisky in Edinburgh ; for ever since, we have been en- 
abled to do what we like with our bees without risk or fear. 
Smoke from the rags of fustian or corduroy, blown into 
a hive, is the secret bought from the Irishman. A few 
puffs of smoke from a bit of corduroy or fustian rolled up 
like a candle, stupefies and terrifies bees so much, that they 
run to escape from its power. Tobacco-smoke is more 
powerful still, but it has a tendency to make bees dizzy, 
and reel like a drunken man ; b3sides, it is more expensive 


and less handy than fustian. Old corduroy or fustian is 
better than new, unless the matter which is used to 
stiffen it he completely washed out. The stiffening matter 
will not burn — will not let the rags burn ; hence we use 
and recommend old stuff which has lost it. Let us ask 
the most timid apiarian to get a piece the size of a man's 
hand, rolled up and fixed at one end — not to blaze, but to 
smoke. Let him now place the smoking end so close to 
the door of the hive that most of the smoke may go in 
when he blows on it. After six or eight puffs have been 
sent into the hive, it may be gently lifted off the board, 
turned over, upside down, so that the bees and combs stare 
him in the face. By holding and moving the smoking 
rags over the face of the bees, and blowing the smoke 
amongst them, they run helter-skelter down amongst the 
combs, more afraid than hurt. Now he can carry the 
hive round his garden under his arm, and then round 
the house, without being stung. "Whenever the bees are 
likely to rise, they should be dosed again. They always 
should get plenty of smoke before the hive is touched at 

If the reader has hitherto not dared to handle his 
bees in this manner, we ask him to try the experi- 
ment, believing that he will be more than satisfied with 
the result, and find that he has now got the mastery of 
his bees, and can do with them as he likes. Yes ; he 
will be able to drive his bees out of one hive into another, 
and, moreover, tumble or even spoonful them back, as men 
take peas from one basket to another. 

This smoke does not injure the health of bees, or stop 
them from work more than a few minutes. 




TMs question is of great importance, and therefore will 
be considered as fully as our space will permit. The 
swarming system of management is not only more profit- 
able, but, taking a run of years, is better every way, and 
more natural, than the system that prevents swarming. 

One large apiarian in this neighbourhood who uses 
bar-frame hives, once said to us that " honey and swarms 
could not be obtained from hives in the same year." We 
venture to express a contrary opinion. During the last 
few years our best swarms have risen in weight to a 
greater figure than his non-swarmers ; nay, our old stock- 
hives have been as heavy as his, which never swarmed at 
all. All this has not been owing to their being allowed 
to swarm, but partly to the size of the hives and our 
system of management. 

But after making many trials, we can state that in fine 
seasons for honey, good early swarms will, at the harvest- 
time, weigh more than hives that never swarmed at all. 
A swarm put into an empty hive is doubtless placed at 
a great disadvantage, and apparently will never both fill 
its hive with combs and gather as much honey as an old 
one — a non-swarmor — already full of combs, weighing 
30 or 40 lb. But wait a little : the swarm which is far 
behind during the first ten days of its separate exist- 
ence, afterwards rapidly gains upon the old one, and gene- 
rally overtakes it when both weigh about 70 or 80 lb. 
each ; the young one now goes ahead, sometimes at the 
rate of 2 lb. for 1 lb. We have known many swarms 


go beyond 150 lb. the first season, but we have never seen 
an unswarmed stock-hive approach that weight. And, 
•besides the superiority of the first swarm over the hive 
which did not swarm, there are the mother hive and pro- 
bably a second swarm from it, weighing by the end of 
the season from 50 to 80 lb. each. Of course these 
weights will not be gained in seasons unfavourable for 
honey-gathering ; and in very unfavourable years, when 
bees have to be fed, the fewer hives we have the better, 
— as, in times of calamity or famine, or want of work, the 
working classes of Manchester and other cities find it 
cheaper to give up house and take lodgings — two or 
three families swarming into one house, instead of each 
family paying rent for a whole house. But, even in 
ordinary seasons for honey-gathering, the swarming system 
is by far the most lucrative. 

If asked to explain how it is that swarms put into 
empty hives gather more honey and do better than hives 
not weakened by swarming, we might not be able to do 
so satisfactorily ; neither can we explain how it is that 
a spring-struck verbena plant grows more vigorously and 
does better than an autumn-struck one. As with verbena 
plants so with bees : swarms do better, and often run 
ahead of stock-hives. 

However, we may venture to guess, or give our opinion, 
as to the reasons why good early swarms of the current 
season outdo those that never swarm at all. 

1st, The stimulus of an empty hive makes the bees 
work harder. In the absence of combs, aU the eggs laid 
by the queen must be lost. Combs must be built to hold 
both eggs and honey. For the first two or three days, 
the greater part of the honey gathered is eaten by the 
bees with a view to secrete wax for comb-building, which 
goes on with marvellous rapidity. Liebig thinks that it 
takes 20 lb. of honey to make 1 lb. of wax ; but let us 


suppose tliat 2 lb. of wax is manufactured from 20 lb. of 
honey. Xow, in good-sized hives there are about 2 lb. 
of wax. We have known a swarm fill, or nearly fill, its 
hive with combs, and gain about 28 lb. weight in ten 
days. What a stupendous amount of work these young 
colonists performed in ten days ! 

2d, The combs of swarms are sweet, and free from a 
superabundance of bee - bread ; therefore the cakes of 
brood will yield a young bee from almost every cell, 
making the hatch of the swarm considerably larger than 
that of the old hive. By the end of a favourable season 
the swarm is more populous than the other which we are 
comparing with it. Even a second swarm, in honey 
years, will sometimes pull itself abreast the stock or 
mother hive, with a weight of 30 lb. to gain. 

3d, By swarming we double and often treble the num- 
ber of our hives annually, and therefore have two or 
three queens laying instead of one. By-and-by it will be 
seen more clearly how invaluable these additional swarms 
are to a bee-keeper, and therefore the superiority of the 
swarming system over the non-swarming one. 

4th, By the adoption of the swarming mode of manage- 
ment we can change our stock of hives every year — that 
is to say, we can set aside one of the swarms for stock, and 
take the honey from the old one and other swarm, and 
thus the combs of our stock-hives are full of new sweet 
combs, and free from foul brood, which is a great advan- 
tage. Hives with old combs are objectionable for many 

Besides all these considerations, there is, in the swarm- 
ing system well carried out, the certainty op success in 
bee-keeping. On the non- swarming system, hives are 
comparatively weak in bees in early spring ; whereas, on 
the swarming system (as we recommend it to be done), 
the hives are of great strength and power even in early 


spring. And we maintain that ten strong liives will do 
more work than twenty-five weak ones. How does the 
swarming system secure strong hives ? In this way : the 
bee-keeper has one, and often two, swarms to spare for, 
and unite to, every hive he selects for stock in autumn. 
The hive selected for stock gets the one or two swarms 
from the honey -hive united to it, and thus becomes 
doubly or trebly strong. Hives of such strength are well 
able to face the difficulties of a severe winter — difficulties 
which often crush and kiU weak ones ; and when spring 
arrives, these strong hives gain weight fast, and are ready 
to swarm a month earlier than those that had no addi- 
tional bees given to them in autumn. If hives are weak 
in bees ia spring, they gain but little from fruit-blossoms, 
which are so rich in honey, simply because they are not 
strong enough to do much work ; but when made strong 
in autumn by the addition of extra swarms, they gain 
daily off the fruit-blossoms, in fijie weather, from 3 to 
5 lb. per hive. 

5th, On the non-swarming mode of management the 
queens become old and die ; and at the time of the death 
of a queen there is a great loss sustained. The hive in 
which a queen dies wUl be without eggs for three weeks 
afterwards, or thereabouts ; for ordinarily the young 
queens are not matured tUl about ten days after the old 
one dies, and it is ten days more before the young queen 
that takes her place begins to lay. There is, too, the risk 
of losing the whole ; for if the old queen dies when she 
is not laying, the bees cannot raise a successor. 

In the swarming system, the bee - master may have 
nothing but young queens in his hive, by destroying the 
queens of the first swarm when the bees are united in 
the autumn. We hope this matter is made so plain and 
simple that none will misunderstand our meaning. 

But some bee - keepers may say, " We don't want 


swarms ; we want supers of honeycomb. It is not an in- 
crease of Mves, but a supply of pure honeycomb we are 
seeking." And the question may be urged whether the 
swaiming or non-swarming system is best for getting 
most supers of comb t At present we could not answer 
this question with any degree of certainty, for we have 
not tested it by experiment. And even if fairly tested 
by actual experiment in one season or locality, the same 
experiment in another locality or season may produce 
different results. We are strongly inclined to believe 
that the swarming system will yield more supers and 
more pure honeycomb than the non-swarming one, if the 
bee-master understands his work, and sets himself to the 
task of getting all the supers possible. How would you 
get supers and swarms too? We would have all our 
hives well filled with bees in autumn, as already de- 
scribed. They would be ready to swarm early in May ; 
but before they were ready to swarm we would put a 
super to hold 8 or 10 lb. on each. If weather per- 
mitted, and the hives did not swarm, these supers would 
be filled in about fourteen days. After cutting them off, 
we would swarm all the hives artificially, and put the 
swarms in 16 -inch hives, which is the smallest size 
we use. The mother or stock hives would be left full 
of brood, with bees sufficiently numerous to hatch it. 
On each stock-hive a super would be placed, for every 
day the population of the hives would be augmented 
by the brood coming to perfection. Probably no combs 
would be made in the supers for ten or fourteen 
days, when second swarms may be expected to issue. 
When second swarms are thrown off, the better way 
is to cast them back on the front of the hives whence 
they came, a few hours afterwards. They creep into 
their hives, and rarely come a second time. The hives 
are now full of bees with no brood to attend to. At this 


time tlie bees generally gather a great denl of honey, and 
will fill supers, weather permitting. We know an experi- 
enced apiarian who thus obtains supers from hives not 
weakened by throwing off second swarms. In about 
three weeks from the time the first swarms were hived, 
they wiU be nearly fuU of combs, and ready for supering, 
if the weather has been favourable. They should have 
supers placed on them before they are quite full. With 
brood coming to perfection every day, these young swarms 
wiU not be long in filling supers from the fields of white 
clover, now at their best. Here we see the hkelihood of 
having three supers of combs from one hive managed on 
the swarming system. With two strong hives in the 
middle of July, there is stiU left the probability, if not 
the certainty, of getting a super of honey from each of 
them before the season closes. In favourable seasons all 
this may be done under good management. Then there- 
will remain a hive of honey for further profit, the bees 
of which will be united to the other, to be kept for 
stock ; and this will be incomparably better for keeping 
than one that has never swarmed at all. 

The great difficulty in obtaining supers of comb is the 
tendency of the bees to swarm ; and this difficulty is 
greater by haK in the non-swarming system of manage- 
ment — for it is as natural for bees to swarm once a-year 
as it is for birds to build their nests. In the hands of 
inexperienced people, hives that have received supers 
often swarm before a bit of 3omb is built in them. 

In certain seasons it is well known that a great deal of 
pure honeycomb has been yielded by hives managed on 
the non-swarming mode. In 1863, Mr George Fox of 
Kingsbridge, Devonshire, got from two hives two glass 
boxes (or supers) of pure honeycomb, weighing respect- 
ively 109J lb. and 112 lb., their gross weights being 123 
lb. and 126 lb., the empty boxes being 14 lb. each. These 



magnificent supers seem to throw into the shade all other 
results of bee-keeping. But in the same year Mr Fox 
got " an octagon box of fine white comb," which weighed 
93 lb. i oz., from a swarm of June 28, 1863. Here is 
a late swarm yielding a super 93 lb. weight. If the 
swarm had come ofE four or six weeks sooner, which is 
the usual time, the probability is very great that it would 
have overtaken and outrun those that never swarmed at 
all. Well might Mr Fox say, as he does in a letter be- 
fore us, " These glasses were exceedingly beautiful, but 
the risk and fatigue of removing them were great; and as 
I never like to ask assistance, in case of an accident, I 
had to exert myself too much." 

Mr Fox's supers were filled on the adjusting principle. 
The above sketch will enable the reader to form a pretty 
correct idea as to the way in which it is carried out, and 
how Mr Fox succeeded in inducing his bees to fill such 
large glasses. The supers fitted or slipped over the out- 
sides of the hives, and were let down so far that their 
crowns were not far from the crowns of the hives. The 


bees had not far to go to make a commencement in them; 
but as soon as the combs came down, the supers were 
•raised bit by bit tUl they were filled. The sides of the 
supers being glass, Mr Fox could see when to raise them. 
He says : " The season of 1863 was better for honey than 
any of the twelve years going before ; but, notwithstand- 
ing, such large fine glasses of honey could not be obtained 
except by working the hives upon his adjusting principle.'' 
"We conclude this chapter as we began it, by saying 
that, with an eye to profit, we greatly prefer the swarm- 
ing mode of management. Hives that do not swarm are 
often affected and made useless by that terrible and in- 
curable disease of " foul brood." 



These are made of straw, wood, and glass. Straw shal- 
low skeps, small and neatly made, are better than small 
boxes for supers ; and boxes are better than glasses. 
Glass supers filled are the most ornamental and pleasing 
to the eye, and therefore in some places realise a higher 
price; but straw and wood supers are more convenient 
for parties ifteing their own combs, as well as more con- 
venient to the bees while filling them. 

It wUl be seen that one glass is a great improvement 
on the other ; it looks better, and has a movable top or 
lid. In glass supers the combs are generally buUt up- 
wards, and when they reach the tops they are fastened to 

Supers of straw, wood, or glass, of all sizes, may be ob- 


tained and used. Those tliat hold from 6 to 12 lb. aie 
more readily sold than larger ones ; hut for ornament or 
exhihition, the larger they are the better. 

It should be understood by all, that though supers 
may be obtained from hives of aU shapes and materials, 
some kinds are better than others ; and where the best 
kinds are used, both the bee-master and his bees are 

Common Honey-Glass. Improved Honey-Glass, 

placed on vantage-ground. For instance, large hives are 
incomparably better than small ones ; straw hives better 
than wooden ones ; and those of simple construction are 
more easily managed, and give more freedom and scope to 
the industrious inmates, than those that are complicated. 
The position of the holes in the tops of the hives, 
through which the bees reach and fiH the supers, is of 
little importance. The holes in our hives are all in the 
centre of the crown, and measure 4 inches wide. Some 
modern inventors object to centre holes because they are 
immediately above the brood-combs, where queens are 
ever at work laying eggs, and may readily step into the 
supers and there deposit ' some. To avoid this danger 
these inventors have the holes in their hives nearer or 
over the outside combs, where honey is generally stored. 
Both answer very well, for excellent supers of comb have 
been filled through centre and also through side holes. We 
get supers weighing from 10 to 40 lb. fiUed over centre 
holes, without a cell of brood or a speck of bee-bread in 
them. The size of the hole is of some importance. "We 


think there should he a good thoroughfare and plenty 
of room for travellers between hive and super. 

The health and strength of hives should be our guide 
as to the time supers should be placed on them. No rule 
can be laid down. About a week after the bees cover 
the combs of stock-hives they may be supered. And as 
soon as the hives of swarms are filled with combs they 
should be supered. 

If the supers be made of wood or straw, two or three 
bits of clean white drone-comb, well cemented or waxed 
to labels, should be placed in and nailed to their crowns, 
before they are put on hives. Such bits of comb tempt 
the bees to go into them at once and commence work. 
From the crowns of the supers to the crowns of the hives 
we use ladders of wood about as thick as a ohUd's finger. 
On these the bees go up, and commence to build their 
combs downwards. This is of great importance, for bees 
naturally build downwards ; and where supers are thus 
filled, the combs are squared-off and finished before they 
touch the crowns of the hives. "When only half filled 
they may be lifted and examined without injury. If 
guide-combs be not used, the bees would probably com- 
mence to fill the supers from below and build upwards. 
Drone-combs are used in supers as guides for this reason, 
that drones are seldom — we might venture to say are never 
— bred in supers of ordinary sizes. These supers of 
drone-comb are invariably filled with pure virgin-honey. 
" But if you had no drone-comb at hand, would you use 
bits of worker-comb instead?" Yes, certainly, to induce 
the bees to begin at the tops and build their combs in the 
natural way. Thus the combs in the supers are at some 
distance from the brood-combs, till they and the supers 
are nearly filled with honey. At the season of supering, 
any bee-keeper may lift one of his hives and cut out of it 
a few pieces of drone-comb to be used for supering. In- 


deed, when we are bending our energies to get many and 
fine supers of honeycomb, we cut out of our hives all the 
white drone-comb we can get. We prefer it empty, so that 
it can be easily fixed in supers before they are put on 
hives. As soon as such supers are put on, the bees go up 
amongst the empty combs, fix them more securely, and 
begin to -store honey in them ; and when such supers are 
taken off, it is found that the clumsy work of the bee- 
master has been hidden amongst the more perfect work 
of the bees. These supers are just as beautiful and sale- 
able as those that have never been touched and tinkered 
by the hand of man. 

One year we made a special effort to get a great number 
of supers of comb. When all our straw and glass ones 
were filled, we went to our grocer and bought some small 
boxes which he had emptied of mustard and other things. 
They were about 1 foot square and 3 inches deep — just 
what we wanted. He charged 2d. each for them. A small 
hole, 3 inches w^ide, was cut in the bottom of each box ; 
then they were filled as full and as neatly as we could with 
combs (white and beautiful) cut from large hives, and 
placed on hives ready to fill them with honey. Thus 
more than half the work was done for the bees before 
they entered these supers. 

In placing and fixing empty drone-combs in. supers 
before bees enter them, the bee-master should not forget 
that there is a right and a wrong way of doing this. The 
more closely we imitate nature, the more likely are we to 
succeed. All honey-ceUs dip to their bottoms ; they are 
not horizontal. As combs are found and cut out of hives 
they should be placed in supers. If they be turned 
bottom upwards, the cells will slope the wrong way, and 
be much more difficult to fill. Well, then, let the combs 
be properly placed and partially fixed in the supers. In 
fixing combs in boxes we begin at one side and finish at 


the other. The combs are kept apart by little bits of wax 
or wood ; the lids are put on before they are placed on 
full hives. When filled with honey thoy are taken off, 
and other empty ones are used in the same way and 
placed on the same hives. 

The reader is now asked to take another look at the 
improved honey-glass. It is narrow at bottom and wider 
higher up. The lid is movable. It will be seen at once 
how easy it will be to help the bees to fiU this kind of 
super. When one of these empty glasses is placed on a 
fuU hive, we take the lid off and place at once some 
empty pieces of drone-comb on the crown of the hive 
inside the glass, and hold them erect and in proper posi- 
tion by wedges or little bits of comb. The lid is put on, 
and the super is thickly and warmly covered with cotton- 
wool or woollen cloths. In a short time the bees adopt 
and fasten the combs thus put in. " Why, these combs 
are 6 inches high to begin with, and the bees are building 
them upwards ! " In filling very large glass supers (now 
called crystal palaces), to hold, say, from 50 to 100 lb. 
of comb, we remove the glass lidg, and put in their places 
wooden or straw ones, with combs attached and pending. 
Thus the bees have combs artificially fixed from both top 
and bottom to unite and fiU ; and, when weather permits, 
they do it with marvellous dexterity and rapidity. When 
these supers are fiUed, the most expert apiarian or dealer 
in honey could not detect a flaw in them. Supers so 
filled are perfect in every sense, and cannot be surpassed 
for excellence by those which may be fiUed by bees man- 
aged on the old jog-trot system. 

When the combs are well united and the supers nearly 
fuU, the wooden lids are cnt off with a table-knife or bit 
of fine wire, and the glass ones put on. If the lids are 
dome-shaped, with a cavity to fill, a few pieces of nice 
Bomb may be placed on the tops of those broken by the 


knife or wire, so as to fill tlie cavity. Then, finally, put 
on the glass lids. 

If we have not white empty combs enough to half- fill or 
quarter-fill a super of glass, a guide-comb is sealed to the 
wooden lid, and a ladder is given to the bees to go up and 
commence building at the top. Bees can hold by rough 
wood and straw, but not by glass; hence the use of wooden 
lids and ladders. When the combs reach the sides of the 
glass, the wooden lids may be cut ofi', and the glass ones 
restored to their places. 

With this art of supering unfolded before the reader, 
he will be able to help his bees to fill supers of any size, 
and almost in any season. All the honey of refuse combs 
and old hives may be given to bees when they are filling 
supers. The filters of bees are so perfect, that not a speck 
of impurity or a taint of pollen is carried from old combs 
into supers. Even honey mixed with flour, soU, or bee- 
bread, is well clarified when given to bees. All apiarians 
who prefer to eat their honey in virgin-comb may thus 
have a superabundant supply of it. The introduction of 
large pieces of unsoUed ^combs into supers (and feeding 
with honey when weather is unfavourable) may be com- 
pared to travelling by express train. The other way, of 
letting the bees do all the work, is travelling by the 
parliamentary one, which is longer on the road. We 
much prefer the speedier way of filling supers. 

Let us here press on the attention of the reader the 
necessity of covering glass supers warmly and thickly 
with some material If they are not warmly covered, the 
bees will not work in them ; and if not kept quite dark, 
the bees wHL try to shut out the light by bespattering 
wax on the inside of the glass. 

There should be no doors in supers. All bees from the 
outside world should go in by the doors of the hives. If 
outside workers were permitted to go into supers with 


soiled feet, their comTsa would, soon be discoloured. The 
housemaids only should enter supers. 

When supers are fuU, they should he cut from their 
hives by a piece of brass wire or small cord. If the wire 
cut through any honeycomb, the supers should be raised 
about half an inch by wedges, and left in this position 
about one or two hours, to let the bees lick the honey 
from the broken cells, and make all clean and dry. In 
thirty years we have had three supers only that had 
brood in them when cut off. The patches of brood were 
cut out, and honeycombs from other hives were fitted in 
their places, when the supers were replaced on the hives 
for two or three days ; and, when finally taken off, the 
patchwork could not be discovered. 

The only question now to be considered is how to 
drive bees from supers after they are cut off. The smoke 
from fustian rags vigorously blown into the top holes of 
supers is generally successful. Before this smoke the bees 
run helter-skelter out of supers into their hives in a short 
time. In cold weather they ar^ more difficult to drive, 
and on two or three occasions we have had to place a very 
small bit of brimstone rag amongst the fustian, the fumes 
of which frightened the bees out of the supers very 
quickly. The smallest taste or sni£f of it is enough to 
make them run for their lives. But let us warn the 
reader of the danger of using brimstone in this work, for 
the fumes of sulphur are destructive of bee life if not 
given in the smallest possible doses. And there would 
be twenty times more difficulty in removing dead bees 
than living ones from supers well filled with honeycomb. 



Can bees be prevented from swarming 1 Yes, by the use 
of ekes ; and wbat are these ? Additions or enlargements 
from below — that is to say, eked or lengthened. Hives 
are eked by riddle-rims, or hoops made of four or five roUs 
of straw of the same description as those in a straw-hive, the 
same width as the hives raised by them. These ekes are 
fastened to the hives by nails or staples going into both, 
and the junctions covered with any kind of cement or 

Straw ekes, like straw hives, are better than wooden 
ones. The sides of an old hive make two ekes, if pro- 
perly cut and sewed a little. 

Are ekes better than supers for getting a great weight 
of honey ? Very much ; for bees can put more than 
3 lb. of honey into ekes for every 2 lb. they can put into 
supers. (This is another proof of the superiority of hives 
of simple construction over those that are complicated.) 
Bees not only gather more honey, but they breed more 
by the use of ekes, and are thus prepared to do more work 
for the future. The markets will determine whether eking 
or supering is the most profitable. If the price of honey 
be Is. per lb., and comb Is. 6d. per lb., the one mode of 
enlargement will appear equal to the other for profit. In 
the use of supers there is the risk (in hot seasons very 
great risk) of swarms coming off unexpectedly and flying 
away. In the eking mode there is the trouble of extract- 
ing or running the honey and jarring it for sale. 

But eking hives does not always prevent their bees 
from swarming'! Not always, but in ninety -nine cases 


out of a hundred it does. In some hot seasons, and on 
rare occasions, bees have been known to square the ends 
of the combs before their hives were quite full, and 
swaim. This so seldom happens that it may be con- 
sidered exceptional, and out of the usual run of events. 
When our hives are timely eked we have never the 
shadow of a fear that they will send off swarms. 

It is by the use of large hives and ekes that the 
bee-master can get his swarms in good seasons to weigh 
from 100 to 160 lb. each. But why not have hives big 
enough to do without eking 1 This question has been 
already answered. In many cold seasons, swarms cannot 
fLU such large hives ; and it is of great importance to have 
all hives kept for stock fuU or nearly full of combs in 

When ekes are used, cross-sticks must be put into 
them at the highest parts, so that the combs may be 


Nadirs are the opposites of supers. Nadirs go beneath 
bee-hives, and supers above them. If a hive which we 
wish to keep for stock becomes heavy in July, we place a 
nadir beneath it — that is to say, we Hft it off its board, 
place a hive with cross-sticks and a large crown-hole on 
the board, then place the fidl hive on the empty one, pin 
the two together, and cement the junction. The bees are 
soon found hanging in a large cluster, like a swarm, 
through the crown-hole of the nadir. New combs are 
speedily built. from the upper hive, through the crown- 


hole, down to the hoard ; and in process of time the nadir 
is filled with combs and brood, almost all the honey going 
to the upper storey. At the end of the season the top 
one is taken off for honey, and its bees driven iato the 
bottom hive, which is kept for stock. 

Nadirs are most useful for early swarms that become 
heavy before the end of the season. By placing nadirs 
beneath them, both honey and stock-hives may be ob- 
tained. Since the first edition of this work was published, 
we have had two stock-hives that swarmed with nadirs 
beneath them, though we never knew a case of the kind 

Last year our earliest swarm was taken off about the 
10th of May. By the end of four weeks it was full, and 
nearly ready for swarming. Instead of taking off a virgin 
swarm, we placed it on a nadir. At the end of the season 
we found that it weighed 70 lb. All the bees were driven 
below, and the top one taken. It weighed 50 lb., and 
the nadir 20 lb. We thus got nearly 30 lb. of honey and 
a stock-hive from a swarm of May. A few pounds of 
refuse honey were given to the nadir, which was a strong 
hive in the spring following. 

"We consider nadirs inferior to ekes when weight of 
honey is the only object sought. We use and recommend 
them when both honey and stocks are sought from 
swarms of the current year. For gaining great profits 
in a favourable season, and for continued prosperity for a 
succession of years, the system of having strong hives and 
early swarms is far before all the other systems of manag- 
ing bees. Supers, nadirs, and ekes are useful, profitable, 
and indispensable for hives that require enlarging later in 
the season. The question of which is best, the interest 
and aims of the bee-master must determine. 




It does not pay to wait and watcli for hives casting, and 
it does not pay to lose swarms. The adoption of the in- 
valuable invention of swarming artificially saves the bee- 
keeper from a world of anxiety and the loss of swarms. 
Probably Bonner was the inventor of artificial swarming, 
for he wrote a book about 80 years ago, which my father 
read at the time. Bonner's system (with some slight 
modifications) was adopted by my father, and carried into 
practice for forty years. He swarmed his bees artificially 
before he knew the value of fustian smoke for stupefying 
them. After finishing his day's work, he often swarmed 
three or four hives on an evening. The only bee-dress 
he ever used was a cabbage-blade hung over his face ; and 
this was for ever cast away when he was taught by an 
Irishman to use the smoke of fustian rags. 

The bother of bee-keeping would be too great for us if 
we did not swarm artificially. We can easily take off 
four swarms in an hour ; and with the assistance of a lad 
to drum a bit, we could take off six swarms, place them 
all in proper places, and cover them up in less than an 
hour. The process of artificial swarming is a very simple 
affair — so simple that no person can see it done without 
understanding it pretty well. 

It is more easily performed and sooner done than we 
can describe it with our pen. Take a hive ready for 
swarming, and a skep prepared to receive the swarm ; 
another empty hive and a table-cloth or piece of calico 
are required. These are placed some yards — it does not 
matter how many — from the old hive to be swarmed. 

A few puffs of smoke are blown into the hive, which is 


then carried to where the empty hive and calico are. It is 
turned upside down — that is, placed on its crown; then the 
empty hive is placed on and over it, and the calico rolled 
round the junction of the two to keep all the bees in. The 
hive to receive and contain the swarm for good is placed 
on the hoard of the old hive, with a view to prevent the 
bees flying about from going into other hives. The reason 
why the hive with cross-sticks is not first placed on the 
hive to receive the swarm, is owing to the difficulty of 
seeing the queen in it. The bees would hang in clusters 
on the sticks ; hence they are first driven into an empty 
hive, in which the queen is easily seen, then shaken into 
the other hive prepared to receive the swarm. Now the 
drumming or driving commences, which is simply done by 
beating the bottom hive with open hands for about five 
minutes. This drumming confounds the bees, and causes 
them to run up into the empty hive, and in nineteen 
cases out of twenty the queen goes with the bees or 
swarm so drummed up. But to be quite sure that the 
queen is with the swarm, we take the hive (now contain- 
ing the swarm) oif the parent hive, turn it upside down, 
exposing the whole swarm to view, in order to see the 
queen. She is easily distinguished, and when we have 
seen her, we take the swarm back to the old stand, and 
shake all into the hive ready for them, the calico mean- 
while being spread over the combs and bees in the old 
hive. The swarm is now placed three, six, or nine feet 
to the right, and the mother hive as far to the left, of the 
spot or stand on which it stood before. How easy and 
simple this work is ! how soon over, and how natural it 
appears ! It is just about as easily done as shaking a 
natural swarm from a branch into an empty hive. Look 
at the advantages : the bees are not allowed to waste 
their time in clustering about the door of the hive before 
swarming ; and this clustering, in some cases and seasons, 


continues for weeks. Again, the bee-master can use this 
artificial mode of swarming at his convenience — ^morning, 
noon, or evening, and when there is the appearance of a 
continuation of fine weather. It is a great .advantage to 
a swarm to get three or four fine days after being put into 
an empty hive. In the chapter on feeding bees, the ad- 
vantage of feeding young swarms in showery weather will 
be pointed out. When the first swarms are taken off arti- 
ficially, a number of royal cells are generally occupied or 
employed for rearing young queens at the same time — that 
is to say, three or four queens are set about the same time 
— and these coming to perfection together, afford a greater 
certainty of getting second swarms ; and this is an import- 
ant affair in an apiary of large hives, for in a honey season 
large hives that do not send off second colonies become 
far too heavy for stock-hives. In mentioning the advan- 
tage of second swarms, we are aware that the great bulk of 
English apiarians do not agree with us ; but we are fully 
convinced that as soon as they adopt larger hives, and seek 
the largest quantity of honey from them, they wiU con- 
sider second swarms an advantage — and not a smaU one. 

Other favourable views of the advantages of artificial 
swarming could be presented here, but we think that the 
fact of its answering as well as natural swarming, and 
that it can be done in a few minutes at any time of the 
day, are sufficient to convince every earnest bee-keeper of 
the folly of waiting and watching day by day for swarms 
coming off naturally. 

But the reader may say, " I am timid, and can't believe 
that I could manage to swarm my bees." A great Amer- 
ican once said : " / can't do it never did anything ; I'll 
try has done wonders ; but 7 will do it has performed 
prodigies." The reader must allow us to tell him that 
he can swarm his bees artificially if he wills to do it ; and 
what now appear wonders and prodigies in the manage- 


ment of bees, will by-and-by be felt in his hands to be 
a very simple aifair. 

But suppose the reader adopts this art of swarming, 
how is he to know when his hives are ready for swarming, 
and what size of swarms to take when they are ready 1 
These questions are important. A little experience will 
give more instruction than our pen can. Of course when 
bees begin to cluster at their doors they are ready for 
swarming. Large hives seldom cluster outside before 
swarming, and small ones almost always do. But by 
using the smoke of fustian rags we can ascertain when 
hives are ready for swarming — that is to say, full enough 
for swarming. When smoke is blown into a hive, the 
bees run up amongst the combs ; and if the hive be lifted 
off the board, there will be but a thin sprinkling of bees 
left on it. When they so run up amongst the combs, the 
hive is not ready to swarm. But when ready, the hive 
is full of bees, so that the smoke drives them from the 
door, but not up amongst the combs, which are pretty well 
packed. Well, on lifting this hive there will be found 
a rope or ring of bees on the board about as thick as a 
man's wrist ; and this rope of bees begins to run over the 
edges of the board, so that, when the hive is replaced, 
many bees are on the outside of it, most behind. Of 
course the number of bees on the board will be greater in 
some hives than others, according to their construction, 
size, and ripeness. This is a far better test of the readi- 
ness of a hive for swarming than the appearance of drones 
in it, or even the heat or noise of it. A hive is often 
ready to swarm before drones are perfected in it ; and in 
unfavourable weather, it is often as full of bees as it can 
hold when there is neither much noise nor heat. The 
examination should be made when the 'bees are all at 

The other question may be answered by saying that we 


follow the rule of the bees themselves. "When a swarm 
comes oflE' naturally, bees enough are left to cover the 
combs barely or thinly, so that the brood of the hive may 
be all hatched. In artificial swaiming we leave the 
combs of the old hive as well covered with bees as in 
natural swarming. If too many have been driven up with 
the swarm, we put a few spoonfuls back ; and if too few 
have gone with the swarm, we drum up a few more, and 
unite them. A very little experience wOl make this mat- 
ter safe and easy to the hand and judgment of the reader. 

In bee-houses, and where many hives are standing close 
together, there is some difficulty in placing the swarm and 
mother hive aright, so as to prevent the bees of the one 
going into the other. When each can be placed at least 
four feet from the old stand, one to the right and the 
other to the left, there is scope for successful action in 
this matter. We always succeed' — though there may be 
less than four feet on each side ; but then we have to use 
a little stratagem. The front of the hives and flight-boards 
have to be disfigured, so that the bees may not know or 
discover the entrance of the old hive. When the doors 
of the two are near each other, the bees of the swarm are 
apt to go into the mother hive. This we prevent by so 
altering the appearance of the door for a day or two that 
the bees do not know it. A few pieces of broken bricks 
or stones or coals laid on the flight -board up to the 
entrance answer admirably. After the swarm has been 
at work for a day or two, the bees will not go back to 
the mother hive. 

The reader will remember our saying that the farther 
hives are placed asunder the better ; and where the arti- 
ficial system of swarming is practised, the wisdom of that 
remark will be acknowledged. Artificial swarms must 
not, like natural ones, be placed 12, or 20, or 40 yards from 
the stands whence they were taken ; for if they are taken 



SO far, tlie bees will return to tlieir old stands. If moTed 
one or two miles off, they wiU be out of the influence of 
their old home, and, weather permitting, wUl do well 
there. My father being on good terms with all the 
farmers of his parish, was permitted to put his bees on 
any convenient place on their farms. Well, on an even- 
ing he often swarmed three or four hives, put the swarms 
on a light hand-barrow, and with the assistance of an- 
other carried them 1|^ mile off, placed them under a 
hedge, or in an old lime-kihi or quarry, or in any odd 
corner, where they remained unmolested till they were 
removed to the moors. 


This barrow is simply made of six larch raUs, thin and 
light, not weighing many pounds — being held together 
by eight screws or naUs. As soon as the bees are placed, 
the screws are withdrawn, the rails tied together, and 
carried home. We had an exceedingly light and con 
venient barrow of this kind made of five pieces of bam- 
boo-cane. When only two hives are removed, a common 
" yoke" placed across the shoulders— the hives hanging 
like a couple of pails of water — is a safe mode of carriage. 

It win be seen and understood that we take care to see 
that the old queen goes with every first swarm. Hence 
we look for her — and the way and time of doing so has 
been already described. But it is not absolutely neces- 
sary to see the queen in every swarm, or even to look for 
her. Young beginners, mere 'prentice hands in bee-man- 


agement, will succeed beyond their expectation by drum- 
ming rather more than haK the bees of a hive ready for 
swarming into one prepared with sticks and guide-comb 
for the swarm, and placing them right and left of the old 
stand. And when no time is spent in looking for the 
queen, anybody can take off a swarm, artificially, in ten 
minutes at most, and often in five minutes. It should 
be remembered that five minutes is quite long enough to 
drum in hot weather; and during the day, when the bees 
are at work, four minutes is long enough : when weather 
is cooler, the bees do not run so fast. If the queen does 
not go with the swarm, all the bees wiU return within 
the space of an hour to the old hive. Farther than loss 
of time, no harm has been done. A second effort wiU 
have to be made. It is but rare indeed that the queen 
does not go with the bees on being first driven up. 

But in artificial swarming, the old or mother hives are 
deprived of their queens, and, generally speaking, have 
no eggs set in royal cells. They are therefore without 
the appearance or prospect of successors to their thrones. 
What happens 1 The bees, on discovering their loss, are 
thrown into a little consternation, which is of short dura- 
tion. Some few bees will now and then come out of 
their hives, and run about the front of them in search of 
their lost queens. When fully convinced they have gone 
for good, they commence to prepare royal cells for the re- 
ception of eggs — common worker-eggs — from which they 
raise queens. Very often they let the eggs selected for 
queens remain where they find them, but so alter the 
shape and size of the ceUs containing them, that they be- 
come at once " royal cells." 

No fears need be entertained as to the ability of the 
bees making queens for themselves. They never fail to 
raise queens, if the hives have left in them sufficient bees 
to cover their combs thinly. Well, these eggs placed in 


royal cells, or otherwise royal cells built around them, 
become perfect princesses in fourteen days, when the pip- 
ing and barking begin, which was explained in a former 
chapter. After three nights' piping, second swarms may 
be expected, if the weather be at all favourable for swarm- 
ing. Second swarms are less particular than first ones 
about having fine weather on the occasion of their leav- 
ing home as colonists. But cannot second swarms be 
taken ofi', as well as first ones, artificially 1 Yes ; but it 
is necessary to be a little more cautious while doing it, 
for such young princesses are apt to take wing during the 
operation. Old queens never take wing, however much 
they may be tossed about in swarming and uniting of 
swarms. Not so with these young unimpregnated queens. 
Hence there is a little manoeuvring required in swarming 
second swarms by art. As soon as the queens are heard 
calling and answering each other (piping), we turn up the 
hive and cut two of the royal cells out — those that have 
queens in them — and wrap each up in a comer of our 
handkerchief, separate, and so that they cannot come out 
of their cells. We have got over the difficulty ; and in 
less than five minutes a swarm is drummed up into a 
hive prepared for it : the swarm is set on one side of the 
old stand, and the mother hive on the other side. In the 
handkerchief there is a queen for each hive. We gene- 
rally take the lids off the cells, and let the beautiful young 
creatures run in at the doors. It requires no master- 
stroke to do it ; any one who puts aside the mistrust of 
his own powers wiU. manage this affair easily. Second 
swarms generally come naturally on the day following 
the third night of piping. If piping ceases, no second 
swarm wiU be obtained. 

If there are more than two queens in a hive — and fre- 
quently there are four or five — we cut them all out, if pos- 
sible, on such occasions. But presently we shaU. come to 


notice the use of these spare queens. Hives that yield 
first swarms have sometimes small second swarms taken 
from them, and two of these united thus making one 
good swarm — leaving the old ones strong in bees, and 
scarcely feeling the loss of those taken from them. Let 
us, hy figures, show how this is done. 


1st Swarm. Stock. Stock. 2d Swarm. Stock. Stock, ist Swarm. 

At the commencement of the season, let us suppose we 
have two stock-hives — standing at 2 and 6. When the 
swarms are taken from them they are moved to 3 and 5, 
and the swarms to 1 and 7. 2 and 6 are blotted out for 
the present, and 4 remains unoccupied. Suppose we 
want one swarm more from the old stocks. Part of a 
swarm is taken from each and set at 4, removing the old 
ones back to their original stands, 2 and 6, leaving 3 and 
5 empty. If it be deemed advisable to take a second 
swarm from each, and keep them separate, their positions 
will have to be arranged a little differently. 

Surplus Queens. 

Now we come to notice the uses of these surplus queens. 
By using them aright, the bee-keeper does exercise some 
master-strokes of policy and good management. They will 
be welcomed into hives without queens, and into hives 
with princesses unmatured, if presented to them. Sup- 
pose we have one or two hives ready to swarm for the 
first time when such queens are available. We hasten 
to take swarms from them ; and as soon as the bees in 
the old hives have discovered the loss of their own 
queens, we give them young ones instead. The hives 
that thus get queens as soon as their own are taken from 


them are lifted fourteen or sixteen days in advance of 
those that do not get queens. For it would take them 
fourteen days, at least, to rear queens, even if the egga 
were set the hour on which they lost their old ones, 
and the q<i-ens from such eggs were allowed to leave 
their cells on coming to perfection. These transplanted 
queens would lay ahout 28,000 eggs in fourteen day.=-- 
that is to say, before queens reared at home could begin 
to lay at all. Of course, the introduction of these sur- 
plus queens to hives that have just swarmed, either natu- 
rally or artificially, prevents aU preparations being made 
for throwing second swarms. The old hives are never 
without brood, for the young queens thus implanted be- 
gin to lay before aU. the brood' is hatched. Such hives 
soon become very strong, and capable of doing a great 
deal of work in various ways. In honey seasons they 
will rise to a great weight, and fill a good super with 

In the case of hives swarming late, it is of vast import- 
ance to give them queens from early swanners ; for, if left 
to rear queens for themselves, the season is nearly over 
before the eggs of such queens come to perfection. Let 
us see how long it is before young bees are matured from 
such queens. Suppose a swarm be obtained on the 1 5th 
of June, the eggs wiU be matured into queens in fourteen 
days — i. e., about the last day of the month. If there be 
no days wasted in piping and preparing to send off second 
swarms, the young queen will take the drone in three 
days, and commence to lay in about ten days after — say 
about the 1 2th of July. Well, the brood is three weeks in 
the combs, so that the month of July is nearly gone before 
young bees are hatched. First swarms have pregnant 
queens, and generally do well, though they be not ob- 
tained till the end of June ; but it is otherwise with the 
old hives and second swarms. How manifest, then, is 


the advantage of having all hives ready for swarming in 
May, or very early in June — also the advantage of im- 
porting queens from early swarmers into later ones ! 

Small "bee-keepers oblige one another by transplanting 
surplus queens from one apiary to another. One thus 
enriches his neighhour without impoverishing himself. 

The question has been asked how queens can be found 
or seen amongst the bees that have been driven into 
empty hives. After a swarm has been driven into a 
hive, it is turned on its crown — not gently, for we wish 
all the bees to fall from the sides of the hive on the 
crown ; and when they are running back, we try to get 
a sight of her majesty. She is conspicuous and easily 
known, but the eye of the bee-master does not see all 
parts of the swarm at once ; and as the queen is very 
modest,' she often hides herself amongst the bees before 
she is noticed. In about two minutes all the bees leave 
the crown of the hive and settle on its sides. When she 
has escaped our notice the first time, we give the hive a 
great " thump," and thus bring all the bees on the crown 
of the hive again, when they rapidly leave it for the sides, 
giving another opportunity of seeing the queen. But in- 
stead of shaking them down a second time, we sometimes 
shift them down to the crown of the hive with a table- 
spoon, allowing each spoonful to run off before we put 
another down ; and by beginning at one side of the swarm 
and going all round it, we do not fail to see the queen if 
she is with the swarm — and in nineteen cases out of 
twenty she is. It is very rare indeed that bees sting, or 
ever think about it, when dealt with in this manner. 




This has heen described in the first part of this work ; 
but as there are so many things in natural swarming that 
should be well understood, we trust we shaU. be excused 
if we venture to examine briefly a few of them. 

The time or season of swarming depends on both the 
locality and the management of the hives. Some places 
are warmer and earlier than others. Some places have 
more spring flowers than others. In the southern parts 
of our island, swarming in ordinary seasons should 
commence in the beginning of May. Much depends on 
autumn treatment. If hives kept for stock are weU filled 
with bees in autumn, they wiU be ready to swarm four 
weeks sooner than those that are left to their own re- 
sources. "We have abeady touched on this point, and may 
return to it again. 

Wlien hives are ready to swarm and mean to do so, eggs 
are set in royal cells generally about four days before the 
swarms issue. The combs are well fOled with brood from 
the egg up, in all stages. The hives are choke-fuU of bees. 
There is much noise, and the internal heat is very great. 
They may or may not cluster outside. Usually small 
hives do cluster and large ones do not. 

Hives, whether large or small, that have but little 
honey in them, are much better fiUed with bees than 
hives containing a good deal of honey. Bees do not sit 
closely on honeycomb, even on the eve of swarming. 
Those with little honey in them yield the largest swarms, 
and afterwards lemain stronger in bees. First swarms 
vary in weight from 4 to 8 lb. each; second swarms, 
from 1^ to 5 lb. The second swarms from small hives 


are hardly wortli the price of the hives into which they 
are often put. 

We have said that the eggs are generally four days in 
royal cells before first swarms issue. But sometimes the 
weather prevents swarming till the young queens are 
nearly matured. The time is therefore uncertain. Some- 
times there is a miscarriage. The swarm goes without 
the queen, and soon returns. Next day, probably, a suc- 
cessful attempt will be made, both swarm and queen going 
together. Sometimes there are several miscarriages. The 
swarm always returns. How is this 1 The queen cannot 
fly. In attempting to follow the swarm she falls over the 
flight-board, and may be found crawling on the ground. 
The noise of the bees on their return to the hive attracts 
her to it. This may happen again and again ; hence these 
miscarriages. Such queens are old, and will soon die. If 
a young queen (virgin) could be obtained anywhere, it 
were wise to unite her to the swarm rather than carry 
the old one to it. If the old queen found below the 
flight-board be put in an empty hive, and placed on 
the stand of the old one for an hour tiU all the bees 
return, the swarm may now be placed in any part of 
the garden, and the old hive put back to its original 

While a swarm is in the act of leaving the hive, there 
sometimes comes a sudden change of the atmosphere. 
The sun is clouded, the air chilled, and rain may fall. 
The bees already on the wing cannot fly. They are fuU of 
honey, and come to the ground in thousands, — bees being 
unable to carry such heavy loads in cloudy cold weather 
as they do in the sunshine. If a shower follow, thousands 
never rise. K the sun shine out warmly in the afternoon, 
or even next day, many of the bees which fell will rise 
and go back. The attempt to swarm at an unfavourable 
moment is often disastrous. The skill of the bee-keeper 


can do little in such a case. If a small cluster reach the 
place chosen by the hees, all should be brought back and 
thrown on the front of the old hive. 

Swarms generally alight on a branch of a tree or bush 
or hedge, if these grow near their mother hives. Where 
there are no trees or hedges, they will settle on a stone, or 
post of a fence, or clod, or big weed in a garden. It is 
wise to have some bushes near an apiary managed on the 
swarming system ; for swarms can be easily hived from 
branches that bend. 

Hiving is usually done by holding the hive prepared for 
the swarm underneath it, and then giving the branch on 
which it hangs a sudden shake or jerk, when all the bees 
lose their hold and fall into the hive. The hive is set on 
the ground with its crown downwards, and mouth and 
swarm exposed. The board is instantly placed on and 
over the whole, just giving the bees time to gather theii 
feet and get hold of the sides of the hive (about half a 
minute) before it is inverted into its proper position. 
Let it stand for a few minutes to gather in all the bees 
that have not been hived — the noise inside speedily at- 
tracts them — and then let the hive be placed where it is 
to remain. When a swarm goes into a thick hedge, or 
settles on a stone or wood fence, the hive is placed over it, 
so that the bees can easily run up into it. If on the trunk 
of a tree, the hive is tied on above it ; and when it settles 
on the branch of a tree far from the ground, the branch is 
usually cut and let down. 

IsTothing should be put in hives intended for swarms 
but cross-sticks and guide-combs. Ignorant people often 
wet their insides with sugared ale or sugar-and-water, a 
most foolish practice. 

Another foolish practice, and a widespread one, is to 
make a great effort to induce swarms to settle by drum- 
ming on kettles and frying-pans, thus producing artificial 


thunder, to frigliten the bees from all idea of flying away. 
Sand and soil are thrown up amongst the bees to make 
them believe it rains. Such artificial thunder and rain 
have no influence whatever over a swarm of bees. It is 
understood by some that in ancient times these noises 
were made to intimate to the neighbours that a swarm of 
bees was on the wing, believing that the noise gave the 
owner a legal right to claim and hive the swarm wherever 
it alighted. 

Fortunately swarms almost always settle near home 
for a short time before they seek a more abiding habita- 
tion elsewhere ; but when they have decided to go to a 
distance, and have commenced their march, nothing will 
stop them. We have known one or two fugitive swarms 
shot at. The poor feUow who shot said, " If I can hit 
and bring down the queen the bees will return." He 
was right enough in his ideas, but unfortunately he 
missed the queen, and lost his swarm. 

These fugitive swarms rise higher than houses and 
trees, and travel at the rate of about eight miles an hour ; 
so it is hard work to follow them. 

If swarms are not speedily hived they may be lost ; 
and sometimes they will hang for a day before they de- 
part. Old combs in the hollows of trees or roofs of 
houses are very inviting. All hives that have lost their 
bees in winter should be placed where swarms belonging 
to other people cannot find them. AU honest persons 
wOl do this. Some dishonest persons expose their dead 
hives with combs in them, for the purpose of catching 
swarms not their own. 

When a swarm alights on two separate places, both 
lots should be put in one hive. 

In large apiaries two swarms, and sometimes three, 
issue at the same time, and generally unite. The queens 
go with the multitude, and foUow the noise. It is an 


awkward affair when two swarms unite, for to separate 
them is rather diflacult. Some of the extensive bee- 
keepers of America use "swarm-catchers" to prevent 
such unions. These swarm-catchers are about 12 inches 
square at the end, and 4 or 5 feet long. Four posts about 
one inch thick, fastened as a frame and covered with 
muslin or other thin cloth, maybe termed "the American 
swarm-catcher," and is simply a square sack of thin 
materials. Well, when one swarm is half or wholly on 
the wing, and another commences to issue, the sack is 
placed around the door of the hive, and the swarm rushes 
into it, and inay be hived as convenience dictates. 

But two swarms united may be separated — that is to 
say, the two queens may be caught and put into different 
hives, and the bees divided between them. There are 
various ways of doing this, all of which will answer if 
done with a skilful hand. The man who can swarm bees 
artificially has experience enough to divide and subdivide 
.swarms as much as he likes. The man who has not 
courage to do this will let both swarms remain together. 
If separation be attempted, it should be done as soon after 
swarming as possible, otherwise one of the queens v;^ill be 

When two swarms belonging to different people unite 
and cannot be separated, the one who retains the swarm 
should allow the other about half value — say 10s. for a 
20s. swarm, for it is of less value in its united state than 
when separate and single. 

In natural swarming, as has already been explained, 
the old queen goes with the first swarm, and leaves be- 
hind her in the old hive eggs or grubs in royal cells. 
When these come to perfection, the piping commences, 
and lasts three days and nights. If the bees determine 
not to send off a second swarm, the piping is stopped at 
fijst, and all the surplus queens are killed and cast out. If 


the piping continues, a second swarm may be expected ; 
and if a second swarm issues, and the piping continues 
still, a third swarm may be expected on the day follow- 
ing. Third and fourth swarms have been known to come 
off on the same day. It does not answer for qxieens to 
pipe three days before third and fourth swarms; the 
time for their impregnation has arrived, and they cannot 
wait with safety. In north-west Aberdeenshire a bee- 
keeper got four swarms from one hive in 1874. The 
first swarm rose in weight to 124 lb., the second to 75 lb., 
the third to 45 lb., the fourth to 36 lb., the mother hive 
to 93 lb.— altogether, to 373 lb. 

The year 1874 was a good one for honey in the north 
of Scotland. In ordinary years it is not profitable to 
take third swarms. In very favourable seasons they 
may fill their hives, and weigh 40 or 50 lb. each. ' Two 
swarms are sufficient to take from one hive in ordinary 

It is often not desirable to take second swarms from late 
swarmers. But if they come when we do not want them, 
what is to be done t Hive them, and let them remain for 
a few hours in their hives, and then throw them back on 
the flight-boards of the hives that cast them off. In nine- 
teen cases out of twenty they do not issue a second time. 
But is it not wise to kill the queens of second swarms 
before returning them ? We never do it when uniting 
swarms at the swarming season. We have known one 
instance only in which the conflict of two queens ended 
in the death of both. The bees generally interfere to pre- 
vent a conflict between two queens thus brought together. 
In such cases one of the queens may be often found in the 
centre of a cluster of bees termed "a regicidal knot." In 
such a knot the queen comes to grief. 

If the piping be heard after the second swarm has been 
returned to the old hive, it wiU probably issue again, and 


should again be thrown back ; but this, as we have said, 
seldom happens — for aiter the second swarm has departed, 
all the queens but one are generally destrojed, and no 
more swarming takes place. 

There is in the history of swarming a critical time for 
old hives and second swarms. A day or two after second 
swarms have left their mother hives, the queens of both 
go out to meet drones. The bees become very uneasy if 
their queen stay long away. Sometimes they never re- 
turn — have been lost on their marriage-tours. When the 
bees find that they have lost their queen, they make mani- 
fest their loss by their wild excitement and bewilderment. 
No one can witness this excitement without seeing that 
something is wrong. Every now and then the bees are in 
a state of wild commotion, rushing hither and thither in 
search" of their lost queen. During these paroxysms of 
grief every bee in the hive seems to be affected. They 
have no eggs, and therefore are unable of themselves to 
make good their loss. What should be done with hives 
thus bereft of their queens ? If surplus ones can be ob- 
tained, they should be introduced at once to these queen- 
less hives. If ripe queens cannot be obtained, probably 
royal cells containing infantile queens may be had. One 
of these cut out of its hive, and placed between two combs 
of the queenless one, answers well ; for the bees soon 
cement it to their combs, and bestow proper care on their 
now infant and future queen. In the case of the swarmi 
it is rather dangerous to turn the hive upside down, with 
a view to place a royal cell between its combs just being 
formed, as they are apt to fall. Even the smoke of rags 
should be gently blown into a swarm recently hived. 
But if one person lifts the hive off the board, say 3 feet 
perpendicularly, and another person puts in the queen- 
cell, the work may be easily and safely performed. And 
if no combs at all have been formed before the queen has 


been lost, liow can a royal cell be given to the swarm ? 
In such a case, we resort to a pin or skewer of wood, sharp- 
ened at both ends. The royal cell, with a hit of comh 
attached, is stuck on one end of this skewer, the other is 
stuck in the side of the hive, leaving the comb with the 
infant queen in the centre of the swarm. The bees know 
the value of the boon thus hestowod — a great calm and hum 
of joy take the place of the wild roar of excitement. If 
neither a matured queen nor an infant one can be obtained, 
the case is not hopeless. Eemember that bees can make 
queens from common eggs ; so that we have only to cut a 
small bit of comb containing eggs from another hive, and 
place it between the combs of the queenless one, in order 
to avert its threatened loss. The moment a queenless, egg- 
less hive receives the gift of a few eggs from another hive 
tlirough the hands of their owner, the hees hegin to fashion 
royal cells, and royal tenants in them. Two notahle in- 
stances of hees without queens finding eggs for themselves 
have been known. They had been without queens, and 
of course without eggs, for fourteen days or thereabouts, 
when an egg was seen in a royal cell in each hive. This 
was a most unusual and extraordinary occurrence ! Where 
did the eggs come from ? They must have been obtained 
from other hives, not by the hand of man, but by two bees 
remarkable alike for wisdom and courage. Brave bees ! 
you injured no other community, but you saved your own 
from ruin and extinction ! 

If a second swarm or the old hive lose its queen on its 
marriage-tour, and the other does not, they could be 
united. And in other ways queenless swarms can be used 
up. They could be united to weak stocks and small 
swarms, and removed to a distance for a while. 

Virgin swarms are the grandchildren of stock-hives ; 
they come from swarms of the current year. They are 
generally obtained from first swarms, and therefore possess 


tlie oldest queens. They are misnamed, but we have no 
desire to give them a new name. In seasons remarkable 
for earUness and abundance of honey, virgin swarms are 
not uncommon. Indeed in one such season our stock- 
hives began to send off a second series of swarms. In such 
fine seasons it is easy to multiply greatly the number of 
hives ; but for profit, we find that it is better to enlarge 
hives than to take virgin swarms from them. 



This is a name we give to swarms evicted or ejected from 
parent hives three weeks after they sent off their first 
swarms. Second swarms may have gone from them as 
well as first ones ; but on the twenty-first day after the first 
swarm leaves a hive, the combs are free from brood, save 
a few drone-cells — drones being twenty-four days in being 
hatched, and workers twenty-one days. The eggs laid by 
the queen on the morning of the day she left the hive 
with the first swarm, come to perfection on the twenty- 
first day after. The young queen that has taken her place 
has not begun to lay, and therefore there is no brood in 
the hive. Very well. Large hives gather a great deal of 
honey before they swarm. If the weather be fine while 
fruit-trees are in blossom, they generally gather from 
2 to 5 lb. a-day per hive. In fime seasons, large hives, 
properly managed, contain from 20 to 30 lb. of honey 
before the end of May. New honey will not be in the 
market for a month or two after May, if we do not turn 
out or evict the bees from these hives. But we do turn 

TURNOUTS. . 107 

them out ; and for sixty years at least, my father and 
his son have practised this mode of getting honey in great 
quantity so early in the season. Such honey is super- 
excellent, having been gathered chiefly from fruit and 
sycamore trees, and commands a high price and ready sale. 
We reckon Is. 3d. per lb. for run honey, and Is. 6d. for 
honeycomb, a fair price. If there be only 20 lb. in a hive, 
we drum the bees out of it into an empty one. In this 
way 25s. worth of honey, and another swarm (the evicted 
one), which we term " a turnout," are obtained from the 
stock-hive, which has before yielded one or two swarms. 
Thus we get two or three good swarms, and 20 or 30 lb. 
of honey from a stock-hive. These turnouts are generally 
a shade better than the second swarms from the same 
hives ; and when no second swarms have been obtained 
from the hives, the turnouts are very large swarms in- 
deed, and require large hives. By practising this mode 
of taking honey from stock-hives three weeks after swarm- 
ing, the apiary contains hives that are filled with fresh 
young combs, free from foul brood, and never over- 
burdened with bee-bread. Then there is the encourage- 
ment of profits already in the pocket, and two months of 
summer yet to come. 

A hive should weigh 42 or 45 lb. weight to yield 20 
lb. of honey. Sometimes we pass sentence against hives 
of less weight, drum the bees out of them at the proper 
time, and take the honey ; and sometimes, instead of tak- 
ing their honey, after the bees have been driven out, we 
place them in a dry room till autumn ; and if we then 
find it will be advantageous to keep them for stock, and 
take the honey from heavier hives, they are refilled with 
bees taken from honey-hives, and placed in the garden. 

The process of turning bees out is simply that of driv- 
ing them into empty hives prepared for them. In the 
case of artificial swarming, we drum but a few minutes ; 


but when we wish to drive all the hees out, we drum for 
fifteen or twenty minutes. "When there is brood in a 
hive, the bees are loath to leave it; but as there is no 
brood at the time of eviction, the bees are easily driven 

It is understood that, if the spring months be unfavour- 
able for honey-gathering, the hives will be too light for 
yielding much honey. In such a season it is unwise to 
have turnouts, unless it be to rid the apiary of old hives 
and old combs. 

But looking closely into this turning-out system, the 
reader may say, " It is not a wise and economical one ; 
for by putting the bees into empty hives, you compel 
them to make new combs, which cost them a great deal of 
honey. Leave them in their own hives, and thus save the 
consumption of honey necessary in the building of fresh 
combs." This remark is both logical and full of common- 
sense. No sensible man wiU attempt to resist its force. 
But nevertheless it is a system which has many advan- 
tages, some of which are already mentioned. Stock-hives 
that swarm early become too heavy in good seasons for 
stocks. If they yield 25s. wotth of honey each, and 
swarms (turnouts) that wiU become excellent stocks by 
autumn, as they often do, we thus realise both honey and 
good stocks from old hives after they have done swarming. 
Another thing is this, that a few pounds of sugar, now 
costing very little, given to turnouts, enable them to half 
fill their hives with combs. We do not turn the bees out 
of aU our stock-hives. Our aim in this chapter has been to 
point out the advantages and disadvantages of the system, 
that the reader may be guided by his own judgment. 




In bee-keeping, as in many other things, it is not all 
honey and sunshine. Stings and venom-bags are placed 
side by side with honey-hags in the bodies of these 
industrious creatures. Cold rainy seasons come some- 
times j and when they do come, bees have to be fed 
pretty constantly. One year, well remembered by some 
apiarians, the best hives, though we,ll attended, never 
rose in weight beyond 22 lb. each. They were near 
starvation-point the whole of the summer. In such 
seasons the management of bees is attended with anxiety, 
disappointment, and loss. Part of the profits of former 
years have to be spent on sugar to keep them alive. In 
two noticeable years, bees had to be fed from April to 
August, when the weather changed, and became so favour- 
able for honey-gathering, that strong hives rose rapidly 
in weight to 70 and 80 lb. It is rather an unfortunate 
circumstance for a working man to commence bee-keeping 
in an unfavourable season. His bees must be fed again 
and again ; and his wife does not like to see so great a 
waste of sugar, and may grumble sorely about it. To put 
an end to such loss and dissatisfaction, he sells his bees 
at a sacrifice. Such failures we have seen with sorrow. 
We should be glad if any words of ours contribute in the 
smallest degree to encourage all beginners to go forward, 
even if one bad season succeed another. Success is 
certain to the persevering. During the last fifteen years 
we have had far more favourable seasons for honey- 
gathering than unfavourable ones. In our native village 
in Lanarkshire the profits of bee-keeping in 1864 were 


about £4 per hive ; in 1865, about £3 ; in 1866, about 
£■2; ia 1867, nothing; in 1868, between £3 and £i ; 
and in 1869, about £3. Our own profits altogether from 
1870 to 1874* from bee-keeping are upwards of £220, 
after deducting an annual expenditure of 10s. per hive. 
But years unfavourable for honey - coUecting may be 
expected ; and when they come, our bees -wLll require 
attention and feeding. We do not care much how bees 
are fed, so that they get enough. 

As large hives, well populated, gather more honey in 
fine weather than small ones, it should be borne in mind 
that they consume more in rainy weather. Strong hives 
lo«e 1 lb. in weight during the night in summer, and no 
one can tell how much food is consumed during the day 
when the bees are at work. In a large hive there are 
probably upwards of 50,000 bees, and about the same 
number in embryo in their cells. Both bees and brood 
need food, and a great deal of it. He is the best bee- 
master who feeds his stock liberally and judiciously in 
rainy summer.?, for he wiH receive a return for all his 
attention and liberality. If bees be well fed they remain 
strong and healthy — the hum of prosperity and content- 
ment is kept up — breeding goes on — thousands are added 
to the community ; and if fine weather come, they will 
gather twice or thrice as much honey as those that have 
been barely kept alive. Bees that are kept on the point 
of starvation instinctively cast out their young, and wisely 
refuse to set eggs. Theii combs become empty of brood ; 
their numbers decrease ; their bankruptcy blights them 
for a month, if not for a whole season. We speak of 
stock-hives in the months of April, May, and June. 

Look at swarms lately hived. Every natural swarm 
can live three days on the food it takes from the mother 
hive. The bees of artificial swarms, being hurried out of 

* Four of these five seasons were considered unfavourable. 


their mother hives, have not all filled their bags so well 
as those of natural swarms. If rainy weather overtake 
these young swarms, and continue some days, they will 
starve if not fed. Thousands of young swarms are ruined 
for want of feeding after being put into empty hives. If 
they do not die right out, they never recover from the 
blight and blast of hunger then undergone. 

"We have known swarms starved out of their hives. 
Having made a few pieces of comb, and being without 
brood, no eggs having been set in them, the bees, from 
sheer want, cast themselves on the wide world. These 
are called " hunger-swarms," and their name has a very 
painful significance. 

But if swarms are well and liberally fed in rainy 
weather, after being hived, they rapidly build combs, 
and these combs are as rapidly filled with eggs from 
pregnant queens. A few pounds of sugar given to a 
swarm will enable it to build combs to its own circum- 
ference and size ; and these combs, as we have seen, will 
soon be filled with brood, which will quickly come to per- 
fection, and thus greatly add to the strength of the com- 
munity. During the cotton panic, and at other times 
when no work was going on, some of the wealthy mill- 
owners of Lancashire kept their machinery in order, and 
even enlarged their premises ; so that when the dark day 
had passed away, and the sun of a brighter sky fell upon 
them, they found themselves in possession of greater 
powers for active and successful work. So the skilful 
bee-master is not inattentive to the machinery and mill- 
hands of his factories when they are not working "full 
time." Idleness in a bee-hive is often the mother of 
mischief. When weather forbids bees leaving their hives, 
it is a stroke of good policy to give them something to do 
indoors. A few pounds of sugar (made into syrup), wisely 
administered, keeps up the hum of health and prosperity, 


promotes breeding, and prevents collapse and disaster. 
Often when feeding is not absolutely necessary, wben 
there is plenty of honey in a hive, a little sugar given to 
it in dull weather is of great service in keeping up its 
temperature, and in promoting the laying and hatching 
of eggs. 

Loaf or refined sugar boiled in pure water, at the rate 
of one pound of sugar to one imperial pint of water, is 
excellent food for bees. No artificial food is so good for 
them as this ; indeed it is better for them than heather- 
honey. The mortality of bees fed on heather-honey is 
greater in winter than when fed on pure sugar-and- water, 
mixed and boUed as described above. Flower-honey, as 
it is termed in Scotland, or clover-honey, is the best and 
healthiest food for bees ; and, strange as it may appear, 
10 or 11 lb. of this honey lasts or feeds a hive as long 
as 15 lb. of heather-honey. Brown sugar is relaxing, and 
should not be given to bees as winter food. On the score 
of cheapness it is often used in summer, and with safety. 
White soft sugar, now sold at 3Jd. per lb., is nearly as 
good as loaf-sugar for feeding bees. 

Some old-fashioned gentlemen, doubtless fond of a glass 
of good ale themselves, like to give their bees sugar-and- 
ale instead of sugar-and-water ; and some are so kind as 
to give them wine mixed with sugar. Pure water mixed 
with the sugar is better for bees than either ale or wine. 
The elephant grows strong on water, the ox fattens on 
water, the horse does its work on water, and bees want 
nothing better. 

In mixing sugar and water for bees, it is desirable to 
present it to them sweet enough, and yet not too thick 
and sticky. "We have mentioned one pint of water to 
one pound weight of sugar — that is, nearly weight for 
weight. We wish to make ourselves well understood 
here ; for the English and Scotch pints are very different. 


The imperial pint - measure of England holds 4 gills ; 
the Scotch one holds 16 gills. In Yorkshire and Lanca- 
shire many people call half a pint " a gill." It is the 
English or imperial pint of water which we use with one 
pound of sugar. One pound of each, slightly boiled, makes 
excellent syrup for bees. It is about the same thickness 
or substance as honey when first gathered from flowers. 

There are various ways and appliances for feeding bees. 
Many amateur bee-keepers feed from the tops of their 
liives. It is a very good plan. A kind of tin trough or 
cylinder, with a wooden float full of holes, is used for 
this purpose. The lid on the top of the hive is removed, 
and this cylinder, filled with syrup, is placed there. The 
bees speedily find their way to the syrup, and carry it 
down into the hive. This system prevents strange bees 
from getting the syrup. 

The following are the only instruments we have ever 
used in feeding, all of which are cheap, simple, and 

The trough of our feeding-board is 11 inches wide, 1^ 
inch deep, and holds 3 quarts or 6 lb. of syrup. It is 
a very useful instrument, and can be refilled without 
touching the hive or troubling the bees. Eor feeding 
young swarms, or giving large quantities to a hive, it 
is far superior to anything of the kind we have ever 
seen. In the plate of this feeding-board it wiU be ob- 
served that there are cross pieces of wood in the trough 
for the convenience of the bees getting at the liquid. We 
think this is an improvement on ours, which is used 
without them ; but then we have to use chips of wood to 
keep the bees from drowning. We have never known a 
bee lose its life in the trough of our feeding-board. 

The feeding-cistern holds about 3 pints of syrup, and 
is handy. When it is used, the board of the hive must 
be placed very level, so that the liquid runs to the far 



end of the trougli attached. The trough is ahout three- 
eighths of an inch deep and 12 inches long. The open- 
ing tetween the trough and cistern must he less in height 
than the edges of the trough, in order to prevent the 



syrup from running over, and the bees from going into 
the cistern. As the hees empty the trough, the cistern 
iUls it. It is generally used at nights — i.e., when bees are 
not flying about. 

The feeding-trough is an exceedingly handy thing. It 
is used for giving syrup ia small quantities. It holds 
about a gill, but one could be made to hold more or less. 
A single troughful of sugar-and-water, costing about one 
halfpenny, given to a hive daOy in dull weather, has a 
wonderful influence for good, even if the hive is not 
hungry. For the feeding of bees ia spring this little 
trough is unsurpassed for excellence. 


In hives that are not full of comhs, a common soup- 
plate or a flower-pot saucer, answers well for feeding bees. 
Some chips of wood or short straws are placed in these 
saucers. After being filled with the bee-food, they are 
placed on the boards inside the hives. In times of comb- 
building, the hives should be lifted off their boards with 
the greatest care, and without turning them in any way ; 
otherwise their combs might be jarred down. We fre- 
quently use flower-pot saucers for feeding swarms. Lift- 
ing the hive off the board, and gently placing it on the 
ground for a moment or two, we put the saucer on the board, 
fill it with the liquid, and then lift the hive on the board. 

In feeding bees we have always tried to do the work 
simply and rapidly. When we have one or two dozen of 
stock-hives needing food, we do not call to our aid feed- 
ing-troughs of any kind. We simply pour the sugar-and- 
water amongst the combs and bees, and can easily give 
20 lb. of sugar to fifteen hives in half an hour. In doing 
this we dose a hive well with the smoke of corduroy, 
turn it up, and hold it with the combs in a slanting posi- 
tion to the left. From a pitcher or jug with a spout 
the syrup is now to be poured first along one comb and 
then another, tUl aU are gone over ; then turn the hive 
with the combs slanting to the right, and pour the liquid 
on the reverse side of the combs in the same manner. 
Owing to the slanting position of the combs, the syrup 
runs into the open ceUs before it reaches the crown of 
the hive. Thus one hive after another is fed ; and if 
necessary or convenient to give more, each hive can get 
three or four such doses every day. The liquid thus 
poured amongst the bees does no harm whatever, as they 
lick it off one another quite clean in a few minutes. The 
syrup, as we mix it, is not thick and sticky like treacle 
or honey, and when administered as above, does not in- 
jure a hair on the body of a bee. 


In the spring and summer montlis, wlien the weather 
is unfavourahle, constant feeding by small quantities is 
the better way, because it keeps hives full of glee ; but in 
autumn the more speedily it is done the ^setter. By giv- 
ing the food rapidly, 3 or 4 lb. a-day, the bees store most 
of it up, and then settle down into the quiet of winter 
life. If autumn feeding be continued for days or weeks, 
the bees are kept iu a state of excitement, and may con- 
sume as much as they store up ; and moreover, may be 
induced to commence breeding at an untimely season. 

Sometimes hives have not been fed enough at the 
proper time in autumn (September), and the bees in them 
may be found in the dead of winter nearly starved to 
death, so cold and hungry that they will not leave their 
combs for fooi What should be done to save them 1 
Take them into a warm room or hothouse for an hour, and 
pour amongst them a very little warm syrup, which will 
revive them in a few minutes. I say " a very little " 
syrup, for it is not wise to wet much comb with syrup in 
winter. Of course the door of the hive should be closed 
while it is in the house, unless the place be in complete 

The practice of exposing refuse honey, or hives and 
combs wet with honey, to all the bees in a garden or 
neighbourhood, cannot be too strongly condemned. 
Honey thus given to bees is like blood to a tiger ; they 
wiU have more, and make earnest attempts to rob their 
neighbours. And there is great danger of making bees of 
different hives too fainiliar with one another in a mixed 
congregation thus brought together. Bees should be fed 
at home, and never tempted to come in contact with 
those of another family. 

In presenting refuse honey or combs wet with honey 
to a hive, we put it in an empty hive, and place over it 
a board with niae holes braced through it. At night the 


hive to be fed is placed on this board. The bees go 
through the holes and carry the honey from the combs 
into their own. In this way, too, we present honey to hives 
on which supers are being filled by artificial means. 



Amongst the many distempers of bees, dysentery may be 
named. It is of rare occurrence ; but doubtless it is 
caused by unwholesome food, or a cold damp dwelling- 
house in winter. Damp hives are very destructive of the 
Uves of bees in weak stocks during the winter months. 
To-day (January 17th) some of our hives were examined. 
All were found quite dry save a few that were eked with 
riddle-rims. Even the hives of these were perfectly dry ; 
but the insides of the wooden ekes were as wet as water 
could make them. This shows the danger of wooden 
domiciles for bees ! Eor dysentery, loaf-sugar and water 
boiled is a safe and certain cure. 

Foul brood is the great and incurable malady of bee- 
hives. Erom some cause or other, and in some seasons 
more than others, larvae, or haK-hatched bees (or brood), 
perish in their cells, and become a putrid pestilential mass 
in a hive. Prosperity departs from a hive whenever this 
happens, and sometimes the stench of it has driven the 
bees wholly out of their hives, and made them build fresh 
combs underneath their boards ; and sometimes they have 
gone off as swarms, abandoning their hives in utter despair 
and detestation. An experienced bee-keeper can smeU 
this disease outside the hive in which it exists long before 


it is so fully developed as to make the tees forsake their 
hive, and will not hesitate to give the bees suifering from 
it a clean hive as soon as he wisely can. Foul brood in a 
bee-hive is as dangerous and destructive of health and life 
as foul air or choke-damp is in a coal-pit. We are not 
going to waste time and space in theorising as to the 
cause of this distemper in bee-hives, which is not under- 
stood. Long and elaborate essays on foul brood have 
been printed from the pens of great and distinguished 
apiarians of both Europe and America during the last 
few years, a careful perusal of which will convince any 
man of ordinary iatelligence that the writers themselves 
are not quite certain as to the correctness of their opinions. 
The best of them, to say the most, are but " good guesses." 
But the last, and every attempt made to clear up the 
mystery of foul brood, indicates that the person who 
makes it thinks that all who have gone before him have 
failed in their attempts. Though we are unable to speak 
with authority or certainty on this subject, we may 
be excused for saying that we are yet to be convinced 
that it is in its nature infectious or self-communicating, or 
that it is ever carried in honey from one hive to another. 
That it spreads in an infected hive of living bees, all will 
admit ; but a satisfactory explanation of the law or pro- 
cess by which it spreads we have never seen. Many 
single cells of foul brood, far asunder in a hive, often 
appear. These ceUs are covered with lids, rather flat, or 
slightly concave or scooped, resembling in shape the Kds 
of honey-cells. The lids of cells containing healthy brood 
are slightly raised or convex. The disease spreads — the 
cells multiply, apparently not by contact, but singly and 
separately all over the brood-combs, like berries of a bunch 
of grapes colouring one by one. 

A great deal has been said about chilled brood perish- 
ing and becoming fouL The bees of a hive full of brood 


seem to dread the exposure of their oomhs to a cold, 
chilling atmosphere. In the spring months eggs are as 
widely set as the bees can cover them ; hut if severe 
weather overtake the hive, and compel the bees to creep 
together for mutual warmth, some brood may be left un- 
covered and perish. Some years ago, we placed a hive in 
a garden of gooseberry-bushes. A mischievous boy found 
it and kicked it over for a lark. The hive remained in 
this position some days. The boy had cast a stone into 
the centre of the hive and bees, which we found on plac- 
ing the hive on its board. In about fourteen days after, 
we took a swarm from this hive and gave it a young 
queen. In the autumn we found foul brood in it, but as 
there was but little of it, we cut it clean out, and put 
pieces of healthy comb in the place of what was cut out. 
The hive did weU the following year. Foul brood is 
often found in hives that have suffered more from heat 
than cold ; those hives that are long on the point of 
swarming, and prevented from swarming by some cause 
or other, oftener catch the distemper than those not so 
fuU. In fact, the non-swarmers are oftener affected with 
this disease than swarmers or their swarms : and this is 
an argument in favour of the swarming system of manage- 
ment. By keeping young hives — ^that is to say, swarms 
of the present year — for stock, no bee-keeper will suffer 
much from foul brood, if he ever suffer at aU. If hives 
containing older combs are kept as stock, they should be 
carefully examined twice a-year to see that they are free 
from diseased brood. The first examination should be 
made from the 21st to Sdth day after first swarms are 
obtained. All the healthy brood is hatched, and the 
young queens have not begun to lay. The second ex- 
amination should be made at the end of the season when 
breeding has ceased. By blowing the smoke down 
amongst the combs the bees will leave them, so that we 


can see whether any cells have lids. If the cells are all 
apparently empty, the hives are clean, and eligible to be 
kept another year. If some cells have lids covering them, 
at once proceed to drive the bees out of such hives into 
empty ones. If this happen at midsummer, the bees will 
do better in every way in clean hives. If the diseased 
brood be discovered in autumn, drive the bees out and 
unite them to other hives. There can be no prosperity in 
a hive contaiDing diseased and stinking brood ; and to the 
bee-master there will come from it loss and disappoint- 
ment instead of profit. 



It has been said that swallows, sparrows, tomtits, frogs, 
and hens eat bees. "We have never seen them do so, or 
even attempt to seize a living one ; we are therefore scep- 
tical on this point. 

Mice often rob bees of their honey in the winter 
months when they are sitting quiet and in little compass. 
Indeed mice sometimes take up their winter quarters in a 
bee-hive, which they find comfortable every way. Mice 
dare not enter hives in summer when bees cover all their 
combs. Experienced men contract the doors of their 
hives about the middle of September, and so contract them 
that mice cannot enter. The doors of our hives are about 
4 inches long and 1 inch high. "We cut pieces of wood 
to fit the doors, in each of which we cut a small doorway 
about 1 inch in length and one-quarter of an inch in 
height. The small doorways prevent the mice &om going 
into hives, and allow the bees ample room for all the 


traffic they need, and for carrying out their dead during 
the fine days of winter. These contracted doora assist 
greatly in keeping up the warmth of the hives in cold 
weather. It should be known that mice kill bees and eat 
their heads off. Both house and field mice do this in cold 
weather when bees are sitting closely together. The mice 
pick of[ from the mass a bee at a time and carry it outside 
for decapitation. 

Snails ai'e very fond of honey and frequently find their 
way into bee-hives, and there live and consume a great 
deal of honey. Bees will face and kill a lion, but will 
not touch a snail ; it is therefore allowed to go in and out 
without let or hindrance. A bee-master should kill all 
the snails he finds in the neighbourhood of his hives. 
Hornets, wasps, and humble-bees seldom do harm or get 

Bees of one hive often rob those of another. A hive 
of bees is a community of selfish creatures, which will, 
without reluctance or remorse, rob another community of 
all its stores. The greed and predatory habits of bees are 
very remarkable. Doubtless these habits are the outcome 
of the instincts of industry — instincts which make bees 
the greatest enemies of bees. If one swarm succeeds in 
its efforts to enter the citadel of another, it is sacked in a 
comparatively short space of time. When once a hive is 
invaded by a number of robbers, it can be saved only by 
removal. We remember a strong hive of ours being 
robbed by a second swarm belonging to a neighbour 
bee-keeper. The second swarm had stolen about 20 lb. 
in two or three days previous to our discovery of the 
robbery. We removed the strong hive to a distance of 
two mUes (where it soon gathered as much as it had lost), 
and placed another hive on the spot where it had been 
robbed. Early next morning the robbers came for more 
plunder, when every attempt to enter the hive was re- 


sisted. The rotbeis, thus thwarted, instantly let the 
whole fraternity of their own hive know that "their 
game was up " — that no more honey could be got from 
that quarter. Often have we seen hives assaulted again 
and again with spirit and determination, and every assault 
successfully and spiritedly resisted. These continuous 
and persistent attacks are probably owing to one or two 
of the enemy having got access to the city, and escaped 
with some spoil before the defenders were aware. It has 
ever been a marvel to witness the result of a few bees in- 
timating to their companions that honey has been found, 
and that more may be had. How the intimation is given 
we cannot tell ; but sometimes combined attacks are sud- 
denly made, and sometimes as suddenly ended. "When 
the bee-master sees any of his hives assaulted, and every 
assaulting bee hurled back, he has little to fear ; and all 
that he can do is to contract the door, and thus enable 
his bees to defend their citadel. If robbers have no 
mercy, neither have the defenders. Every bee defending 
its hive is a qualified judge and executioner. If a robber 
is caught, lynch-law takes its course. 

Bees know each other by smell, and they know strangers 
in the same way. If robbers are not resisted, and kept 
out of the. hive attacked at first, there is no attempt made 
to resist them after having been allowed to go in and out 
for some time. They soon pillage the hive of all its trear 
sure. While this pOJaging is taking place, the bees work 
early and late, wet and dry. Weak hives are generally 
the sufferers ; but sometimes strong ones are invaded and 
robbed while busy gathering honey. 

Every experienced apiarian knows robbers by their 
stealthy manner of attempting to enter hives for plunder, 
and he knows them by the way they leave the hive laden 
with it. This knowledge cannot be obtained by reading, 
but is gained by observation. 




Earnest men who keep large strong hives find it profitable 
to remove them to the neighbourhood, of orchards, clover, 
and heather, when these are at some distance from their 
own gardens. In some Continental parts, carts are made 
on purpose, shelf over shelf, to carry hives. In Scotland, 
the bee-keepers, generally speaking, remove the bees to 
the moors every year. In August, large hives in good 
seasons wiU gather from 40 lb. to 60 lb. each off the 
heather ; whereas, if they had no heather within reach, 
they would lose weight during that month. We remove 
our bees farther into the country every spring, bring them 
home in August, and take them to the Derbyshire moors 
— a distance of twenty-five miles. Many of the apiarians 
of this neighbourhood are copying our example — and we 
expect their number wiU multiply annually. There are 
three seasons for honey — viz., the fruit-trees yield honey in 
April and May ; sycamore-trees, field-mustard, beans, and 
clover, &c., in June and July ; heather in August. "With 
large hives bees wUl gather honey enough in one day to 
pay the expense of removal from here to Derbyshire and 
back. We put fifteen hives on a green-groeer's cart which 
leaves here at i o'clock in the morning to catch the train 
leaving Manchester at 5.45 a.m. In less than an hour 
after, they are dropped from the train at a station on 
the edge of a moor skirted by the Manchester and Shef- 
field line of railway. In September the hives are brought 
home in the same way. 

Our mode of confining bees for removal is as simple as 


it is safe. The doors of our hives are pretty large, and 
the holes in their crowns are about 4 inches in diameter. 
We nail a piece of fly-proof wire over their mouths and 
crown-holes, then tie the hives tightly to their boards 
with strong string or cord, and drive three two-inch nails 
through the bottom rolls of the hives into the boards. 
They are thus prepared to bear pretty rough handling. 
The fly-proof wire at the doors and on the tops secures 
ample ventilation for hives as full as they can be ; indeed 
this ventilation is so great that the heat of fuU hives is 
less at the end of the journey than it was before they 
started : and frequently the bees lessen the ventilation by 
waxing up the wire on the tops. If hives are not full or 
crowded with bees, we do not always put wire on the 
crown-holes. The wire at their doors, and a few thin 
wedges or penny-pieces, slipped in between the hives and 
their boards before they are tied together tightly with the 
string, prevent suffocation. They travel safely. The 
nails are used to make all doubly secure. If hives travel 
over a rough road on a cart, the jolting sometimes causes 
them to move or slide on their boards, especially if the 
bottom of the cart is not level. The nails through the 
roUs of the hives, driven into the boards, prevent the 
hives from moving laterally. Of course hives are thus 
prepared for travelling either before they commence work 
in the morning, or after the outdoor labour of the day 
has closed. In this way not a bee is lost ; and the cool 
of the day is the better time to transport and transplant 
hives. If the weather be cold or rainy, and the bees not 
at work, they may be confined at any hour, and their 
hives secured as already described. In fact, the colder 
the weather is, and the less the bees are at work when 
about to be transported and transplanted, the less danger 
there is, for in cold weather the bees need less ventilation. 
This is our mode of ventilating and securing hives for 


travelling hundreds of miles, and we have no break- 

The value of cross-sticks in each hive to support its 
combs will be seen ; indeed they are indispensable, for 
if combs are not supported and kept steady by cross- 
sticks they are easily shaken down. Hives without cross- 
sticks are exposed to great risk in being moved at all. 
And if bar-frame hives are not fuU of combs, and these 
combs cemented to bars, it will be risky to transport them 
by cart. Sometimes they are turned upside down in be- 
ing removed, but even in this position their combs will 
not bear much jolting or shaking. 

Inexperienced persons almost always learn a lesson 
never to be forgotten on their first journey to the moors 
with their bees. Some of their best hives have been 
suffocated. It should be well understood and remembered, 
that whenever a hive of bees is closed up to keep in the 
bees, natural ventilation comes to an end ; and moreover, 
the commotion of the bees caused by the first and con- 
tinued motion of the hive increases the internal heat. 
The admission of plenty of fresh air into their hives is the 
secret of success. 

When hives are so full that some of the bees are clus- 
tering outside, they should be enlarged by ekes or nadirs 
one or two days before they are prepared for removal to 
a distance. 

On arrival at their destination, all hives should be 
speedUy placed where they are to stand, the wire on their 
crowns removed, and their lids put on, then covered, and 
their doors opened. If the weather and time of the day 
be favourable for honey-gathering when the bees arrive, 
they will begin to work in less than fifteen minutes after 
having been set at liberty, if they have not suffered dur- 
ing the journey. How quickly bees find honey-flowers 
and return with loads from them may be seen by placing 


hives in a strange locality on a fine day. If they have 
suffered from being overheated by the way, the bees will 
not go into full work for one or two days afterwards. 



This is a very important matter in the profitable manage- 
ment of bees, and " bad luck " is often the consequence of 
inattention to it. "When we see our hedgerows and the 
fruit-trees of our orchards covered with blossoms in 
spring, we should not forget that we are indebted to 
the autumn's suns of last year for the beauty and abund- 
ance that meet our eyes. Those suns ripened the wood, 
filled the buds, and set the flowers before the cold and 
snows of winter came. This year's suns can develop 
those buds into blossom and fruit. So the autumn treat- 
ment of bees is to be considered of primary importance. 

In selecting hives for keeping, one should have his eye 
on many points. 

Hives that are fuU of combs, well built, and as free 
from drone-cells as possible, are to be preferred to those 
that are not fuU of combs or that contain much drone- 
comb. In the spring months, or in prospect of breeding 
young queens for swarming, bees do build too much 
drone-comb ; hence it is desirable to select hives in 
autumn that are filled with combs or nearly so — it is the 
number of drone-cells in a hive that determines the num- 
ber of drones bred in it. 

In this work of selecting hives for stock, the age of 


queens must not be lost sight of or forgotten. All the 
old queens will be found in the top or first swarms (if all 
the hives have swarmed) ; and if any of these containing 
queens more than two years old be selected for stock, it is 
desirable to remove and destroy their queens, and put 
younger ones in their places. AU parent hives, second 
swarms, and turnouts have young queens. Second swarms 
and turnouts with pretty and closely-built combs, weigh- 
ing &om 36 to 50 lb. each, make valuable stock-hives. 
If some of them have faulty combs, or are otherwise ob- 
jectionable, they are marked for honey, and the parent 
hives kept for another year. 

First or top swarms in ordinary seasons are too heavy 
for keeping, and are therefore generally put down for 
honey, but in rainy seasons they are often kept for 

Now let us suppose a bee-keeper has twenty hives at 
the end of August, ten for stock and ten for honey. 
Should he apply the brimstone to the ten for honey? 
No, but drive the bees out of them, and unite them to those 
selected for keeping. This is a consideration of prime 
importance ; for hives thus plentifully furnished with 
bees in autumn are worth much more than those which, 
being otherwise equal, receive no additions of bees. 
Hives thus strengthened are well able to bear the sever- 
ities and di£B.culties of cold winters : they swarm about 
a month sooner than others in spring; and their first 
swarms, in fine seasons, wUl have their hives filled with 
combs, and be nearly ready to swarm (virgins) themselves 
before hives not so UberaUy and skilfuUy dealt with begin 
to swarm at all. No words of ours can describe the value 
of this hint. Let it go and be circulated widely with 
that of large hives, and the success of those who carry it 
into practice wiU soon stimulate the attention of those 
who do not; tho awful brimstone-pit used to destroy 


valuable lives wiU soon be considered as something be- 
longing to " the dark ages." The way to unite swarms is 
simple and easy, and will be explained presently. 

Let me here say that hives so well filled with bees in 
autumn require more food in winter than those not so 
well filled. A Continental writer, " a Swiss clergyman," 
has broadly stated that two swarms united eat no more 
honey than each does separately. This wild notion has 
now a pretty wide and free currency, having been quoted 
and repeated by one writer aftei^ another. 

Some experiments have been made to test the truth of 
this statement. The results, as recorded, seem to favour 
the clergyman's opinion ; but what strikes one is the ex- 
ceedingly small quantity of honey eaten by the swarm, 
doubled and trebled in the recorded experiments. Neither 
single, nor double, nor treble swarms eat more than 7 lb. 
of honey from September till March, whereas each of our 
strong hives consumes 15 lb. of honey in the same space 
of time ! Who can rationally account for the difference 
between 7 lb. and 15 lb. consumed if numbers are not 
considered? We think the clergyman is wrong in his 
statements and doctrines as to the food required by bees 
in winter. It were easy to put bees enough into a hive 
to consume 7 lb. of honey in a few weeks in autumn. 
Fifty thousand bees require about as much honey in one 
hive as they do in two. 

In autumns of rainy seasons, what should be done 
with hives containing but little honey? The bees of 
them should be united to others selected for stock. If 
there be not more than 5s. worth of honey in each hive, 
it is better to let it remain in the hives and combs, and 
be carefully preserved till the following spring for new 
swarms, than to break up the comb for honey. A hive 
of fresh young combs is worth 7s. at least for receiving a 
swarm. Three years ago two good swarms came off on 


the 20th of May. One was put into an empty hive, and 
the other into one containing some sweet empty combs. 
In about two months the swarm that was put into the 
empty hive weighed 70 lb., whereas the other that had 
the advantage of the combs weighed 90 lb. The swarm, 
on being hived amongst the combs, was apparently a little 
less than the other. A hive even half or a third fuU of 
young combs is a great advantage to a swarm, for the bees 
at once begin to collect honey and set eggs. If it be 
desired to feed the hives kept for stock with honey in 
those set aside for swarms next season, it is easily done 
by placing the comb-hives under the bee-hives for a single 
night. The bees will go down and empty every cell of 
honey, and carry all up into their own combs, without 
injuring those of the beeless ones. Thus the weak hives 
are made to feed the strong ones in unfavourable honey 

But one of the greatest difficulties which overtake a 
bee-master well up in the profitable management of his 
stock, is when aU his hives become too heavy for keeping. 
Some seasons his second swarms and turnouts and stock- 
hives will rise in weight to 70, 80, and 100 lb. each, 
and first swarms will go 30 or 40 lb. beyond 100 lb. 
weight. When this happens, both the season and the 
locality are favourable for honey-gathering. Well, what 
should be done with such heavy hives 1 Put them all 
down for honey and honey-comb. The profit in such a 
season is very great. But if all the hives are put down 
for honey, there will be none left for stock. Stop a little. 
There are three ways of keeping up the number of stock- 
hives and getting honey from aU the hives. 

1. One is to drive the bees out of aU the hives before 
the honey season ends, and put two swarms into an 
empty hive. A few days of fine weather wiU enable the 
bees to fill their new hive with combs, but there wiU be 



a proportionate loss of toney by interfering with, heavy 
hives before the season is over. When two swarms are 
thus miited, the oldest queen should be destroyed before 
the union takes place. 

2. The second way is to select the proper number of 
stocks from these heavy hives, and greatly reduce them 
in weight by freely using the comb-knife in cutting 
out 20 lb. of honey or more from each hive, and 
uniting to them the bees of those that are whoUy put 

3. The other way of meeting the dif&culty is the best, 
though it causes a little more trouble to carry it out. 
The bees are allowed to gather all they can in their own 
hives till the season ends, which is generally about the 
commencement of September. Suppose we have twelve 
or fifteen hives, and wish to have six stocks. "Well, all 
the bees are driven out of their hives into empty ones, 
and united in pairs in 16-inch hives — that is to say, all 
the bees of the twelve or fifteen hives are put into six 
empty ones, with cross-sticks in them. If the swarms are 
very large, these hives will hardly hold them; in that 
case they should be enlarged with ekes. Now they are 
to be fed vigorously, each to get 25 lb. of sugar boiled in 
its own weight of water. The feeding-boards are suitable 
instruments to use in giving large quantities of syrup for 
comb-building and storing-up. The 25 lb. of sugar wUl 
make about 50 lb. of sjrrup. All this should be given to 
a hive so filled with bees in ten, twelve, or fourteen days. 
The door should be well contracted, and the hive kept 
warm to promote comb-building. By the end of fourteen 
days, every hive so filled and fed will be nearly, if not 
quite, full of combs, and many of the combs well filled 
with eggs and brood. The weight gained by the hives 
win be found to be equal to the weight of the sugar (or 
thereabouts) given to them. From 50 lb. of syrup, a 


swarm can nearly fill its hive with combs and store up 
25 lb. of food. 

When the bees creep together by reason of cold weather 
the ekes may be taken from them ; and if some combs 
have been built down into the ekes, they should be 
shortened or pared to fit. 

These sugar-fed stocks are generally very prosperous 
ones in the following year, their combs being young and 
containing scarcely any bee-bread. Almost every ceU 
yields brood in spring. But it should be understood that 
combs made from sugar are more brittle and easily broken 
than combs made from honey gathered in the fields. We 
have frequently known every hive in an apiary put down 
for honey, and all the stocks made as now described. We 
think it was in 1864 when a cousin of ours realised £40 
profit from nine stocks. He found all his hives too 
heavy for keeping, hence he took all the honey, and 
formed his stocks by feeding. 

In a year or two after, we found him forming stocks in 
the same way. He had his hives placed over holes or 
pits in the ground about a foot square, and the syrup in 
dishes at the bottom of these pits. The hives were weU 
covered ; and in this novel and rustic way he succeeded 
in furnishing his apiary with hives of surpassing worth 
and strength. 




Though often mentioned before in other chapters of this 
work, this matter deserves separate and distinct treatment. 

Take a hive full of comhs and bees, and an empty one 
into which the bees are to be driven. After the fuU. hive 
has got a few puffs of smoke, it is turned upside down, 
the empty one placed on it, mouth to mouth, and a 
table-cloth is tied round the junction of the two hives, 
to prevent the escape of a single bee. The drumming or 
driving now commences, simply by beating the bottom 
hive with open hands, or little blocks of wood. This 
beating confounds the bees, and causes them to run up- 
wards. In running up into the empty hive the bees 
make a great noise as in swarming, and this noise facili- 
tates the work in hand. In hot weather all the bees, 
or almost all, may be thus driven out of a large hive in 
twenty minutes. The drumming should be continued 
the whole time, for if the bees have time given them to 
think, they will cease running, the noise wUl abate, and 
those that are below will cleave to the brood-combs to 
keep them warm. In driving bees the work shoidd be 
done quickly, allowing no time for play or palaver. 

In cold weather this work is more difSoult to accom- 
plish, the bees being then more disinclined to leave their 
own comfortable habitations. But the work has to be 
done, and the bee-master's ingenuity will not forsake him 
in a job of this kind. About ten minutes before he 
commences to drive his bees in cold weather, he will 
remember to turn up their hive and pour about half a 


pound of syrup (sugar-and-water) amongst the bees, and 
place it on the board. Every bee will get a feed. The 
heat of the hive ■wUl speedily rise twenty or thirty de- 
grees, and in a short time the noise and mirth of the bees 
will be great. 

If the empty hive has been standing in a cold place, 
it should be warmed by holding it before the fire for a 
few minutes, before it is placed on the other. The bees 
are now easily driven up ; they run as fast and furious 
under such treatment as they do in the warm days of 
Aiagust. It is a hard-fought battle that kills every sol- 
dier, and it is an unusually successful achievement when 
all the bees are driven from the bottom hive. Sometimes 
two or three dozens wUl refuse to leave the hive. The 
brimstone-rag, or a puff of powder, will soon clear them 
out ; and though we never use the brimstone-rag, or 
patronise it in any way, for killing whole swarms of valu- 
able hives, we do not hesitate a moment about applying it 
to destroy a few stragglers. 

"When hives are less than 30 lb. in weight, we take 
their bees from them by a speedier mode than driving ; 
we shake them out in less than half a minute of time. 
When this is done no smoke is used ; the bees are taken 
unawares. The hive to receive the bees is placed on its 
crown ; the other is gently raised off its board, but not 
turned up. The bee-master now places his fingers inside 
the hive, and his thumbs outside, the hive being fairly 
balanced on his hands, and his legs pretty weU astride 
the empty hive. He now acts as if he were going to dash 
the one against the other, but they never touch; the 
bees, however, go forward, and fall into the empty hive. 
A few violent thrusts or shakes, well performed, are often 
enough to empty the hive of every bee. In cold weather, 
when bees axe sitting fast amongst their combs, they can- 
not be shaken out in this manner without first feeding 


them as described above. A few minutes after having 
been fed, they will be found moving lightly about over 
their combs, when they may be shaken out readily in less 
than half a minute. This expert " express " mode of 
driving bees from light hives is useful to us ; for we have 
many to drive, and little time to do it. But the thing is 
so simple and easily done, that the greatest novice in the 
world in bee-management could, on seeing it once done, 
do it weU. We often perform this operation by candle- 
light, by feeding the bees about sunset, and taking them 
into a room, or bam, or hothouse for a short time. Say 
in about half an hour afterwards, they may all be readily 
shaken on to the floor of the room, and a hive placed 
over them ; and often there is not a bee lost in doing it. 
Of course the hive containing the bees should be placed 
on its stand before they begin to fly next morning. 

Hives beyond 30 lb. are not so easily handled. A man 
of ordinary strength is unable to put them in motion 
rapid enough to make the bees loose their foot-hold and 
go forward. 

The art of uniting swarms is a very valuable one, and 
easUy learned. The hive to receive the bees, or additional 
swarm, is turned up, and some sugar-and-water, strongly 
scented with mint, is poured over the bees. In about 
fifteen minutes after they have been sprinkled, the other 
swarm (temporarily driven into an empty hive) is shaken 
over the combs and bees, and some more syrup sprinkled 
over them. The hive is again placed on its board, and 
the work is done. This minted syrup prevents the bees 
from discovering which are strangers, and therefore pre- 
vents fighting. On the Continent the bee-keepers have 
begun to use nutmeg grated in the syrup, which they 
give to swarms when uniting them. It is the same idea 
and practice. If the nutmeg smells stronger than the 
mint, it is better for this purpose. We could unite a 


hundred swarms successfully -without the use of either 
mint or nutmeg ; but these strongly-scented articles used 
in the marriage-feast of two swarms tie the knot at once, 
and cement a union lasting as life. When swarms are 
united about sunset, and plenty of unminted syrup is 
given to the bees, they rarely kill each other. When 
they do, the work has not been well done. 

The immediate effects of placing sweets in the mouths 
of young folk are very noticeable. A kind of intoxication 
or hilarity comes over their minds ; and when this takes 
place, it is rather difficult to make them cross-tempered. 
All this kind of thing happens in a hive if the bees are 
well fed with sugar. It is therefore wise to give them some 
about fifteen minutes before the other swarm is shaken 
amongst them. A swarm may be divided between two 
hives, or three, as successfully as when wholly given to 
one. We are now speaking of uniting bees in autumn. 

The oldest queen of the two swarms should be killed 
before the union takes place. And it is necessary to 
remember that the hives standing against each other in 
the same garden are the most ehgible for being united, as 
each swarm vnll be near its own stand. 

When OUT hives are brought home from the moors, we 
place the honey-hives in front of, or side by side with, 
those marked for keeping, thus : — 



[ STOCK ] 

Here the four stock-hives get the bees of the two 


lioney-liives, and. if there were four honey -hives the 
stocks would get a whole swarm each. 

But suppose a honey-hive is standing at some distance 
from those we wish to strengthen hy its hees, how can 
we act without risk 1 There is some, if not great, diffi- 
culty in arranging such matters. 


Suppose we want to get the honey from No. 2, and 
strengthen with hees 7 and 9. If the bees of 2 were 
to be put into 7 and 9 they would return to their old 
stand, and probably be kiUed at the doors of 1 and 3. In 
such a case we drive all the bees out of 8 and unite them 
to 7 and 9. Then we drive the bees out of 2, and 
throw them into 8, placing 8 on stand 2. Thus the honey 
is obtained, and all the bees preserved. 

Sometimes it may be desii'able to unite the bees of two 
weak stocks in the winter season orin cold weather. This is 
done by candle-light in some room or house. The bees of the 
hive to be surrendered are fed by sprinkling syrup over 
them. In about fifteen minutes after, they are suddenly 
shaken into the other hive, or otherwise on the floor and 
the other hive placed over them. We have never known 
an unsuccessful effort made to unite bees by candle-light. 
Of course the candle must be speedily removed, as the 
bees on the floor would naturally fly or creep towards it. 
Before daylight next morning the united bees should 
be placed where they have to stand. A little self-confi- 
dence, and a fair share of celerity, wUl enable any bee- 
keeper to accomplish all he wishes to do in his apiary. 





When we lived in Oxfordshire, we were pleased to find 
the cottagers there could seU their honey in the hives. 
Certain honey-factors came round 
every autumn, and bought honey- 
hives at sixpenceper lb. gross weight, 
after the bees had been killed by 
brimstone. "We then thought, and 
think stiU, that the cottagers got 
a fair price for their honey, and 
doubtless the factors got a fair mar- 
gin of profit. 

It is not difficult to know pretty 
accurately how much honey is in a 
hive before the bees are removed 
from it. Here is an illustration 
of a German steelyard, which is a 
handyinstrument for weighing hives. 
The dial or plate is figured on both 
sides — one side for the large central 
hook and ring, numbering from 1 lb. 
up to 200 lb. The other side, indi- 
cating from 1 lb. to 40 lb. only, is 
used when the hive is lifted by the 
smaU hook and ring seen on the left-hand side. This 
steelyard is small enough to be carried in a coat-pocket. 

There are other kinds of steelyards, perhaps more ac- 
curate than this German one, but they are more bulky. 

To ascertain how much honey is in a hive, we have a 
rule or standard of calculation which comes near enough 

German SteelyaTd, 


to certainty for all practical purposes. After deducting 
the weight of hive, board, and bees, we reckon 5 lb. of 
honey for every 7 lb. weight. Suppose a hive weighs 60 lb. 
The hive and board may weigh 10 lb. jointly, and the 
bees 8 lb., leaving 42 lb. In this case there are 30 lb. 
of honey, and 12 lb. of refuse combs. Another hive may 
weigh 100 lb., the hive, board, and bees of which maybe 
21 lb. — leaving 79 lb. According to our standard, there 
would be 57 lb. of honey and 22 lb. of refuse. In the case 
of hives containing old combs, the yield of honey is less 
in proportion to weight than it is in young or virgin 
combs. Again, if the brood be aU, hatched, there will be 
less refuse and more honey. And we need not add that 
the yield of poor lean hives wUl be found wanting ; and 
that in the yield of very fat ones, and those beyond 100 
lb., there wiU. be found a surcharge of honey. 

But let us now come to the process of taking honey. 
As soon as the bees are driven out of honey-hives, they 
should be carried into a warm room, and not allowed to 
cool, for it is very difficult to impart heat to honeycomb 
without melting their wax. The sticks crossing the 
combs are withdrawn by a pair of pincers, the combs re- 
moved from their hives, and the honey portions of them 
carefully cut off and placed on a flat dish or mUk-pan, 
standing near the fire, but not so near as to melt the 
combs. Any pure white comb may be set aside for sale 
as it is, and all the rest containing honey broken up with 
a knife, and then put into a bag of cheese-cloth or thin 
towelling td drain off into a vessel placed underneath. 
The honey thus drained is as pure as it possibly can be, 
if the bee-bread in the cell has not been broken by the 
knife. As many of the cells contain both bee-bread and 
honey, there is great danger (in taking honey) of having 
its flavour tainted by bee-bread. In this school we our- 
selves are but pupil-teachers. We disapprove of hand- 


squeezing j and yet where there is much, pollen amongst 
the honey, we have found the squeezing process safer' and 
better than that of cutting the combs with a knife. In 
the case of heather - honey some pressure is absolutely 
necessary, for it will not run without it. 

We have seen instruments for pressing honey from 
combs. Though small and imperfect, they did their work 
well, but the process was slow and tedious. We earnestly 
hope that the ingenuity of somebee-keeperwill soon furnish 
us with an instrument which will enable apiarians to take 
hundredweights of honey from combs easily and speedily. 

" Have you never seen the American machine called 
the SHnger 1 " Yes, we have seen several of them, and 
tried one here that was highly commended at the apiarian 
fete that came off at the Crystal Palace in September 1874. 
We regret that its trial here was disappointing; for though 
it cast the clover-honey from the combs by the action of 
centrifugal force, it could not cast or sling off the heather- 
honey in the same way. Heather-honey is beyond the 
power of " the American Slinger," or honey-extractor. 

The Slinger is intended for use with bar-frame hives — 
that is to say, by apiarians who adopt the movable- comb 
system of management. When honey is wanted, the 
bars of combs are taken from the hives, the Hds are cut 
off the honey portions of the comb with a knife, two are 
placed in the Slinger, the revolving action of the instru- 
ment sHngs the honey from the cells, and then the 
combs are replaced in the hive. It casts the clover-honey 
out pretty well ; but, as we have said, heather-honey will not 
go at the command of this American instrument, however 
fast it revolves. The value of this instrument, we are told, 
is that it takes the honey without destroying the combs, 
and thus saves the bees from wasting much honey in 
building more combs. In much that is said about the 
Slinger by its patrons and advocates (who are chiefly 


traders in tar-frame hives), there is the ring of common- 
sense which always captivates. But do you think the 
Slinger is likely ever to come into general use in this 
country ? The present instrument, we think, wUl never 
suit the hee-farmer whose object is profit, and therefore 
will not come into general use. Some are, we are told, 
endeavouring to improve the Slinger by making it more 
efficient in action, and smaller in bulk. "We sincerely 
hope they wUl succeed. Those who keep bar-frame hives 
may find the instrument useful in taking honey in small 
quantities from their hives, but there are many objections 
that could be offered to the use of the Slinger. 

1. Honey and brood are generally found in the same 
combs ; and it appears to me that the whirling of the 
machine wHL cast out unsealed brood as well as honey. 
If it does, the honey will be impure. The breeding sea- 
son was over when we put the instrument to the test here. 

2. The Slinger is used to preserve combs two years old. 
Young combs are too tender to stand the whirling of the 
machine. Now we think combs quite old enough at the 
end of their second year. At that age they are black and 
tough, and moreover they are pollen-bound — that is to 
say, their centre parts are clogged with bee-bread. The 
bees cannot find empty cells in such combs for the eggs 
laid by their queens. We hold that the preservation of 
old combs in hives is neither wise nor profitable. Bees 
thrive bettor and gather more honey in Combs young and 
sweet than they do in combs two years old. A swarm 
put into a good straw hive in May wiU. fill it with combs 
and gather more honey in a good season than any kind of 
hive managed on the non-swarming system. 

3. The combs of a large hive yield about five shiUings' 
worth of wax. This sum would nearly buy sugar enough 
for a large swarm, which, if properly given, would en- 
able the bees to fiU an ordinary bar-frame hive or a 16- 


inch straw one with, combs, and store up food enough for 
themselves from September till March. What advantage, 
then, can be found in the use of old combs ? Most cer- 
tainly there can be no gain or profit in their retention. 

We are most anxious to find an instrument that will 
enable bee-keepers to take their honey from the combs 
speedily ; for honey-taking, in any form, is very unpleas- 
ant work. In the old process of draining or running 
honey through a bag into a vessel beneath it, we have 
to say, that after it has stood for a day in the vessel, it 
is skimmed, jarred up, and made ready for use or sale. 
A short time after honey is jarred up, it begins to set or 
crystallise ; and crystallised honey is gritty to eat. Those 
who wish to use their honey in a liquid state have simply 
to put the jars into an oven for a time. It soon liquefies 
there, and becomes as good to eat as when first taken 
from the combs. 

Honey in the combs does not candy so soon as run 
honey, but even in the comb and supers of comb it 
sometimes does candy. By placing such comb in a warm 
place, the honey liquefies, and the comb appears as in its 
virgin state. Both honey and honeycomb wUl keep good 
for two years, if not for a longer period of time. 

Wax is obtained by putting the refuse combs into a 
bag of cheese-cloth, and boiling them in a large pot of 
clean water over a slow fire. If the bag be pushed to the 
bottom of the pot, and held there by some contrivance, 
all the better. The wax speedily comes to the surface' of 
the water, and appears there as a beautiful yellow oil or 
fat. This oil is ladled into a bag of fine cloth or strainer, 
through which it passes into vessels. The wax may be 
boiled again in clean water and put through the bag once 
more, and thus become purified. Combs that yield £10 
worth of honey, yield rather more than £1 worth of 




Doctors differ in their opinions as to the treatment bees 
should receive in the winter months. One says, Keep 
them warm ; another says, Keep them rather cold. One 
suggests a nice warm spot facing the south ; and another 
recommends all hives to face the north, lest the warm 
rays of the sun tempt the hees to come out when the 
atmosphere is too chilhng. One prefers to winter bees 
in the garret ; another has buried them in. cavities under- 
neath the ground. In America, some large bee-keepers 
have erected large houses on purpose to hold their hives 
during winter. These houses are meant to protect bees 
from the severity of American wiaters. In Great Britain 
such houses are quite unnecessary : here bees can be kept 
sufficiently warm without anything of the kind. 

Would you keep hees warm, then, in winter 1 Yes ; 
as warm as possible out of doors, so that they get fresh 
air enough to breathe. The importance of keeping bees 
warm in cold weather cannot be magnified too much. 
They are easily benumbed by cold — easily chilled to death. 
When a bee drops into snow, it seems to die sooner there 
than if cast into a hot fire. Though bees apparently die 
on touching soft snow, they are not quite dead ; for if 
speedily gathered and carried to the heat of a fire, they 
recover their powers. When snow is on the ground, 
especially if the wind blows from the south or west, 
aU hives should have their doors closed, so as to pre- 
vent bees leaving them. 

In cold weather bees creep close together, but some 
of them must necessarily be more exposed to the cold 


than the rest. Those on the outside of the mass as it sits 
among the combs suffer most. Sometimes they become 
benumbed, and lose all power of motion. The rest creep 
closer together, leaving the others to perish in their help- 
less condition. Many hives are thus weakened for want 
of sufficient protection in cold winters. Weak hives' are 
often killed outright by cold. Bees need extra covering 
in winter, and they cannot well get too much of it. Be- 
neath the outer covering plenty of other materials should 
be used. Soft dry hay, two or three inches thick, or 
waste cotton, or tailors' clippings, old carpets, or grassy 
sods, properly placed around hives, are a great protection 
to bees in winter. 

The seeds of consumption, and other diseases of the 
human frame, have been sometimes sown at a date more 
ancient than we think about ; and so the " bad luck " of 
many bee-keepers in the summer time could be traced to 
their bad management during the winter season. Warmth 
as well as dryness for bees is of prime importance in 
fevery apiary in which profit is sought. 

About the end of September, when aU stocks have 
received some additional bees, and feeding, if necessary, 
they should be neatly plastered to their boards with some 
kind of mortar, and then covered up as described. The 
doors of the hives are to be contracted at this time. No 
more attention is necessary for five or sis months, save 
that of keeping the bees inside their hives when snow is 
on the ground. But here let us say that bees breathe 
and require fresh air in winter as well as summer, and 
that they prefer to go abroad to evacuate; hence care 
and thoughtfulness are required in closing their doors to 
keep them in. Bees in wooden hives soon perish if their 
doors be closely shut. Bees in straw hives will be suf- 
focated too if their doors be closely shut for some time, 
if they have been crowded in autumn by the addition of 


extra swarms. During long storms, the lives of bees in 
very weak hives may be preserved by taking them into 
the room of a dwelling-house. Bees have been wintered 
beneath the ground in America. It has been found that 
they consumed as much honey below as they did above 
ground. The dampness of the air below ground, ae might 
be expected, rotted their combs. 



We think September is the best time to purchase hives 
for stock, for then almost every bee-keeper has some to 
part with — viz., those which he has marked for honey. 
If he can get the value of the honey, hives, and board, he 
will readUy seU. them, and thus save himself the trouble 
of running and selling the honey. The taking of honey 
and wax is the most disagreeable thing in bee-keeping, 
and we would much rather sell our hives than put them 
down for honey. This month is the cheapest time, too; 
for hives that have weathered the winter are higher in 
price, because all danger is over, and they are nearer the 
time of multiplying their numbers. But bee-keeping can 
be commenced at any time, — with stock-hives in. spring, 
autumn, and winter ; and with swarms in May and June. 
And those who keep bees largely will readily sell at any 



In penning a Supplement for this — the fourth — 
edition of the ' Handy Book of Bees,' it is but simple 
justice to the reader and myself to state that after ten 
years of extensive experience among bees, since the first 
edition of this work was published, I find nothing in 
the. second and third editions which I wish to alter or 
withdraw : in fact, our confidence in the system of 
management unfolded and recommended in this work- 
grows stronger year by year. The same may be said 
of the hives which are recommended. Mr Ollerhead, 
who is a practical and disinterested bee-keeper, delivered 
a lecture on Bees last autumn at "Wimbledon. " We 
now come," said the lecturer, " to the question of hives. 
Last autumn I prepared carefully twenty hives of bees 
for the winter — viz., four Pettigrews, three Neighbours' 
Cottage hives, two Stewartons, five Woodburys, two 
Carr-Stewartons, and four double Neighbours. A great 
diversity of opinion exists as to which is the best hive 
to use. The old straw skep, the 20 -inch Pettigrew, 
the Cottage Neighbour, the Woodbury, and the Carr- 
Stewarton, are good in their way; but to my mind 
the best hive for quantity of honey, either in the 
comb or in supers, is the Pettigrew. The hive itself 
has a capacity for a prodigious quantity of honey, 
while sectional or other supers may be piled on its 
crown to any extent desirable. I have visited every 
show of the British Bee-Keepers' Association, and have 
so far failed to find any hives better adapted for the 
profitable management of bees than the Pettigrew, the 



Crystal Palace straw step, and the common Wood- 
bury; and I think it will be a long time before we 
find better in the market. I took 110 lb. of honey out 
of one Pettigrew, and 97 lb. out of another, which was 
considerably more than the returns from any other 
hives on the same ground under the same treatment." 
This experience of Mr Ollerhead is in harmony with 
my own, and that of hundreds of the most successful 
bee-keepers of Great Britain. 

Within the last few years great efforts have been made 
to improve the bar-frame hive, and make the movable- 
comb system of management popular. To some extent 
these efforts have been successful. The most successful 
bee-keepers of the bar-frame school now use large hives, 
and are gradually making improvements in their con- 
struction and management. 

The " Stewarton hive," used by some bee - keepers, 
deserves honourable mention and notice in this work, 
as some clever men prefer it to either the straw hive 
or bar-frame one. Our aim now is to give the reader 
a short sketch of both the bar -frame hive and the 
Stewarton, together with the ways in which they are 
managed. And in noticing this, that, or any hive, let 
it be well understood that no hive or system of man- 
agement concentrates within itself all excellences and 
advantages. Both the Stewarton and bar-frame hives 
and systems have advantages and disadvantages. 

The Bar-frame Hive. 

In studying the natural history of bees, every facility 
for examining hives internally is an advantage. The 
movable - comb hive afifords greater faoUities for in- 
ternal examinations than any other hive — save the 
unicomb or leaf hive. 

All the combs of properly constructed bar-frame hives 
can be easily taken out and examined. The eggs of 
the queen, and the brood in all stages of advancement, 


may be seen and examined day by day. For scientific 
pursuits the movable-comb hive is excellent; and in 
practical and profitable management it has some advan- 
tages in certain seasons, or with certain ends in view. 
For instance, a hive may be 60 lb. in weight by the 
end of August, and from this hive the owner may wish 
to get some honey for use, and keep the hive for stock. 
In such a case, two or three of the outside combs or 
bars could be removed from the hive, leaving all the 
rest for the bees to winter in. With straw hives in 
such a case, 10 or 12 lb. of honey is cut out with the 
comb-knife. Again, two hives with movable combs may 
be 60 lb. each — too heavy for keeping — and one has to 
be kept for stock. In this case half of the bars — the 
outside ones containing most of honey — could be re- 
moved for use or profit, and the central combs of both 
hives could be united, with all the bees in one hive. 
This is a very great advantage, which other hives do 
not possess. But there is a difficulty in the use of this 
advantage which should be remembered. Combs are 
not built quite plumb or straight in the bars, and hence 
the difiBculty of getting two to fit each other. If the 
undulations or bends in the combs run too near each 
other, so that the bees have not room to work between 
them, there will be a loss of comb and space. 

Some advocates of the movable-comb system contend 
for its superiority on the ground that the honey can be 
taken from the combs by using the " American slinger " 
without destroying them. The advocates' of the sKnger 
have said that its use saves the bees from the expense 
and trouble of building fresh combs, and in this way 
more honey is obtained. Our opinions on this point 
remain unshaken, and we believe that the slinger will 
never come into general or profitable use in this country. 
The use of old combs in hives, and the practice of keep- 
ing them for future use, will gradually grow in dis- 
favour and disuse. 

Doubtless many other things could be said in favour 


of the movable-comb system of managing bees, but I 
•wisb to be very brief. Perbaps the best thing that 
can be said in their favour is the facility they afford 
for the use of artificial comb foundations. The comb 
foundations is a wonderful invention, and likely to be 
of great advantage to bee-keepers who at present are 
inexperienced in their use. In using them hitherto 
failure has been the rule, and success the exception. I 
believe they have been successfully used by some api- 
arians, and I hope that the difficulties of using them 
will be overcome, and that the advantages of their use 
wiU be ultimately realised by all the schools of api- 
culture. Let me again say that the bar -frame hive 
affords the greatest facilities for the extensive use of 
artificial comb foundations. The great objection to the 
bar-frame hive is the materials of which it is made. 
How any sensible honest man can advocate the use of 
wood for bee-hives is a marvel to me. It is an improper 
material, and should not be used if better can be found. 
This is being found out in the bar-frame school itself. 
"Wooden hives do not permit the moisture of bees to 
escape : it is condensed on their inner surfaces, and 
runs down the sides of the hives, and the presence of 
moisture in hives rots their combs. Various plans have 
been adopted to let the moisture escape, and have failed. 
lS"ow chaff hives — that is, hives with double boards or 
cavity walls, the cavities being filled with chaff — are 
being tried and approved. Doubtless they are the best 
things out at present, and a great improvement on all 
that has gone before them. The chaff is good both for 
warmth and ventilation, and if the inner case and outer 
sheU. of the chaff hives are well pierced with holes, the 
moisture of the bees will be sifted out of the hive and 
do no harm. Something better than wood for bar- 
frame hives will, I have no doubt, be discovered and 
come into use. Last time I was at Carluke in Lanark- 
shire, I saw a straw hive built as square, and its sides 
as plumb, as any wooden hive ever made. It stood 


in the gas-man's garden, and without speaking to any- 
body about it, I took it to be a bar-frame hive in straw, 
and a model of beauty it was. Something better than 
wood is wanted for bar-frame hives. 

As to the management of bar-frame hives, I have to 
say that Mr Eaitt of Beecroft, Blairgowrie, has brought 
a great amount of intelligence and practical experience 
to hear on this question, and in his hands the bar-frame 
system is scientifically managed, and successfully too. 

Mr Eaitt's hives contain sixteen frames, and have 
partition - walls, which, of course, are movable. His 
mode of management may be stated in few words. In 
autumn he tries to get a hatch of brood by artificial 
feeding, using some floiir or pea-meal in the syrup. He 
fancies the meal in the food causes the queen of a hive 
to recommence laying, and thus a hatch of brood is 
obtained after the season for breeding has passed, and 
this hatch of young bees so late strengthens the hive 
for winter. Mr Eaitt may be right in thinking that 
the meal tends to produce eggs, though I dare not 
endorse his statement ; for common syrup without the 
admixture of meal, given to bees in autumn, almost 
always secures a hatch of brood. 

About the end of October, when bees creep closely 
together and sit in little space, Mr Eaitt removes about 
ten frames of comb from every hive, and places the 
partition -frames close to the bees, so that they may 
have small, cozy, warm dwelling-places in winter. The 
frames of combs that are removed are placed carefully 
in a dry room, and there preserved till spring, when 
bees begin to multiply in numbers, and want more 
room. The partition -walls are removed further from 
the bees to admit the bars of comb as they are needed. 
Additional bars of comb are gradually given to the bees 
tUl the whole sixteen are replaced ; and when these are 
well filled with brood, supering begins, sectional supers 
being used at Blairgowrie. The bar-frame school of 
apiarians should be grateful to Mr Eaitt for so far 


improving tlie management of the frame hive. Both 
Mr Eaitt's hive and system of management are improve- 
ments on all former and existing hives and systems of 
his school — viz., the bar-frame one. Mr Eaitt places 
his hives on dry peaty banks of soil, covers them well 
up with bracken leaves, and keeps them warm and dry 
in winter. This is but a very meagre sketch of what 
is done at Blairgowrie. The great secret of success 
there and everywhere else is the introduction and use of 
large roomy hives, and vigorous intelligent management. 
The contraction of the space of wooden hives in 
winter is a piece of good practice, for if the unoccupied 
combs were left in the hives, and exposed to the mois- 
ture of the bees, they would lose their virtue and rot 
during the winter. Straw hives permit the moisture 
of the bees to escape, and hence their combs remain 
uninjured, even though unoccupied, and at some dis- 
tance from the bee-nest. 

The Stewarton Hive. 

This hive, so unlike all other kinds of hives in make, 
appearance, and management, has some excellences and 
advantages. It is so diiferent from other hives, that 
it is hardly possible to give a correct idea of it by a 
pen-and-ink sketch. To be known it should be seen. 
A respectable gentleman, who writes under the name of 
" The Eenfrewshire Bee-Keeper," uses this hive success- 
fully, and strongly recommends it. It is also used by 
some bee-keepers in Ayrshire, and in other parts of the 
country, but it has never come into extensive use. Still 
the hive, as I have said, deserves honourable mention 
and a fair trial. The Stewarton hive is octagonal ia 
shape, and is of several parts put together. It is a 
strange-looking affair as it falls from the carpenter's 
bench. A hive complete is made of three breeding- 
boxes 6 inches deep and 14 inches wide, and three 
honey -boxes 4 inches deep. In honey seasons when 


the bees are in full swing, eagerly panting for work, 
the whole six boxes are used as one hive, 30 inches 
high and 14 inches wide. Such a hive is capable 
of gathering a great amount of honey, and in some 
seasons the Stewarton hive has done wonders. Here 
again it will be seen that the secret of success lies 
in its size. But the peculiarity of the hive lies in 
its construction, and the way in which it is worked 
or supered. The three breeding - boxes and the three 
honey-boxes have bars in them, but no tops. Every 
part of the hive resembles somewhat a riddle rim, with 
bars running across it. There are slides that run in 
and between the bars, and these slides in use form a 
top to any one of the compartments. Suppose only 
two of the breeding-boxes are used in winter, the slides 
are used on the top box. If the other breeding-box be 
placed below the other two, the slides remain where 
they have been — thus an addition or eke 6 inches 
deep, is made to the hive. If the box were placed 
above the other two, the slides would be withdrawn 
from the second box and placed in the top box. Thus 
the three breeding - boxes would be together, with 
scarcely a division between them. As soon as the three 
boxes are full of bees and brood supering commences, 
the slides in the top box are withdrawn, and one of the 
honey-boxes or supers is placed on the top of the other 
boxes, and receives the slides. The shdes of course are 
always in use in the topmost box Some who use the 
Stewarton hive withdraw only a few slides between 
the super and the breeding - box, and those near the 
outside, to prevent the queen from going into the honey- 
boxes to lay. As soon as the first super is nearly filled 
with honey, another is placed above it, and so on tUl 
aU are fiUed. These 4-inch supers hold from 20 lb. to 
30 lb. of honeycomb each — and many beautiful octagon 
supers of comb are taken from Stewarton hives and 
exposed for sale in the honey shops of ' Glasgow. At 
the end of the season the bees are confined to two 


of the boxes, in which they winter. The breeding- 
box, then removed, is placed in a dry place for the 
winter, to be re-used, like the Blairgowrie bars, when 
summer comes again. If I have failed to give the 
reader a correct idea of the Stewarton hive and the 
mode of working it, it has been from want of ability 
and not of will. 

My object in penning this Supplement is to help 
bee - keepers of all classes as much as I can. It is 
a happiness to all right-minded teachers to stimulate 
attention and multiply ideas which may be crystallised 
into shape, and be useful to future generations. 

While we cheerfully commend aU that is good in 
other kinds of hives than our own, and in other 
systems of management, we can never tire of, or grow 
out of love with, the large straw hive, and its system 
of management recommended in this — the Handy Book 
of Bees ; for they have been long tested, and found to 
answer aU the ends we have in view — viz., large results 
from little expense of time and money. 

Since the above was written, a short account of the 
results of bee-keeping at Carluke this year has been 
sent to me by Mr James Eennie, who is probably the 
largest bee-keeper of the place. Last year, when I 
visited Carluke, Mr Eennie told me he would never 
attempt to winter bees in wooden hives, as he had 
found straw hives so much better. He also told me 
that he considered some districts in Perthshire and 
Aberdeenshire, where he had at one time resided and 
kept bees, were richer, warmer, and better for honey 
than Carluke parish. 

In the letter just received from him, and dated the 
11th of October, 1880, he says: "This year has been 
the best for honey that I ever had in this part of the 
country. Fruit blossoms and clover just yielded honey 
enough to keep the bees breeding ; they made lots of 
workers, but no weight of honey to speak of. On 
being removed to the moors they got three days of fine 


weather each week for a fortnight, and ten days at the 
winding up. Indeed the heather failed before the 
weather. There is not a bee-master (worthy of the 
name) in Carluke who had not hives 100 lb. in weight 
and over, though they were comparatively light when 
taken to the heather. Mr Lindsay of Wishaw took 
eight hives to the moors : he weighed them before they 
went, and on their return — 


Stock -hive rose in weight from 31 lb 

to 82 lb 




60 , 

143 „ 




45 , 

105 „ 




53 , 

140 ,, 


First swarm 


60 , 

120 „ 




65 , 

135 „ 




65 , 

140 „ 


A turn-out 


30 , 

89 ,, 

" Mr Lindsay takes no second swarms from his hives. 
You will see that his eight hives gained on the moors 
the additional weight of 555 lb., which is within a frac- 
tional part of 70 lb. per hive average. 

" Mr John Jack of this place had a stock-hive which 

yielded two swarms, and the first swarm yielded two 

swarms which are commonly called virgins. On their 

return from the heather they weighed as follows : — 

Stock-hive, .... 
First swarm, . 
Second swarm, 
Fiist virgin, . 
Second virgin, 

Total, . 319 lb. 

" Mr Jack's first virgin broke down in going to the 

" The following figures represent the weight of one of 
my stock-hives and its swarms ; — 

Stock-hive, . . . . . 102 lb. 

First swarm, ..'.... 148 ,, 

Second swarm, ... . 76 „ 

Third swarm, . . . . 92 ,, 

Virgin from second do., . . . 66 ,, 

Total, . 474 lb. 


47 „ 

112 „ 

37 „ 

26 „ 


"Please write soon and let me know if you ever 
knew a return equal to my stock-hive and its swarms. — 
Yours truly, James Eennie. 


I am thankful to Mr Eennie for this " pattern card " 
of suecessful bee-keeping, which I now present to the 
bee-keeping community of Great Britain. The system 
of management which has realised such grand results is 
the one which is recommended by the ' Handy Book of 
Bees.' And this " pattern card " of Mr Eennie's ap- 
pearing in the fourth edition is no small compliment to 
the system recommended, and no smaU encouragement 
to the apiarians of this country. 

With a view to prevent the readers of this book 
from writing to me to know where this and that hive 
can be obtained, let me here say that Mr Samuel Yates, 
seed-merchant, 16 and 18 Old MUlgate, Manchester, 
supplies me and hundreds of bee-keepers in England 
with good straw hives and other bee furniture. 

Mr .James Allen, carpenter, Stewarton, Ayrshire, makes 
and sells Stewarton hives. The bar-frame hives may 
be had of scores of hive-makers and hive-dealers through 
England — and of Mr Eaitt and some others in Scotland. 
I do not trade at all in hives (empty) of any kind 
whatever, or in bee furniture. Occasionally I sell stocks 
of bees to parties applying for thero. 



In ■writing the first edition of this work, it was our in- 
tention to add a Calendar of operations to it ; but we found 
that there was writing enough in the manuscript to fill 
the pages without it. In this edition one or two unim- 
portant chapters have been left out, and all unnecessary 
illustrations, so that the work could be improved without 
increasing its size. Indeed, the Calendar itself wiU be con- 
fined to narrow limits. Since the publication of our first 
edition a few years ago, a considerable advance has been 
made in apiarian science by a widespread section of in- 
telligent readers. The progress made in practical bee- 
keeping of late is so perceptible, that we cherish the hope 
that we may have the happiness of knowing that thousands 
of the rural population derive a substantial income from 
this source. From aU parts of the country we are re- 
ceiving most gratifying reports — reports of successful 
management, and honey-harvests greater than were ever 
dreamed of a few years ago. 

January. — If bees have food enough in their hives now, 
the less they are disturbed, indeed the quieter they sit 
amongst their combs, the better. Though all healthy 


hives are benefited by tbe bees taking an occasional air- 
ing in mUd weather during the winter months, the in- 
mates of healthy hives sit more closely and quietly to- 
gether than those of unhealthy ones. On turning up a 
hive infected with foul brood, we invariably find the bees 
sitting very loosely in it, and that they begin to spread 
themselves over the combs rapidly. 

Sometimes bees, in coming out for an airing, take so 
much honey that they cannot fly. They become benumbed 
outside, and cannot return to their hives. This is very 
evident when a great number of hives are standing near 
each other, and especially when the bees are living on 
heather-honey. The ground amongst the hives becomes 
thickly strewed with chilled bees. When this happens 
the bees should be swept together, gathered into small 
supers or boxes, and well warmed before a fire or in a 
half-cooled oven. The heat soon restores them, and when 
let go, enables them to return to their hives. 

Though September is the best month for feeding bees 
for winter, some bee-keepers fail to give enough then, and 
continue to feed afterwards for months. This late feeding 
cannot be too strongly condemned. There is often great 
difficulty experienced in getting bees to take food during 
cold weather. If necessary (from past forgetfulness) to 
feed bees in January, let the food when given be warm, 
say 100°, or blood-heat. If the bees will not take it, let 
them be brought into a warm room or hothouse, and there 
fed with warm food, keeping them in their hives while 

The smallest door possible affords bees in straw hives 
ventilation enough, but those in wooden hives are bene- 
fited by ventilating-holes in them. Such holes help to 
let the moisture escape, which otherwise would condense 
on their sides and rot the combs. Their crown-holes 
should be left open, but covered with wire to keep 


mice out. If wooden hives have no crown-holes, one or 
two dozen of small holes bored through their sides and 
crowns with gimlets or small brace-bits will tend to rid 
them of moisture. 

It has been said by some one that bees die in a tem- 
perature of 34° — that is to say, when the mercury falls to 
within 2" of the freezing-poiut inside a hive, bees cannot 
live. I have not yet put this to the test of experiment ; 
but if it is a fact, the importance of covering hives weU in 
winter cannot be too strongly insisted on. 

Cottagers who make their own hives should get them 
ready during the long evenings of winter ; and amateurs, 
too, should prepare beforehand for an increase of swarms. 

February. — This month is one, generally speaking, 
of inactivity amongst bees. As the days lengthen, the 
hopes and enthusiasm of bee-keepers are awakened, and 
some preparations are made for future events. The 
seasons from 1870 to 1873 inclusive were unfavourable 
ones for honey-gathering. 1874, though not one of the 
best seasons for bees, was very favourable in the months 
of June and July, enabling good swarms to rise in weight 
to 100 lb. each. In the north of Scotland some rose to 
120 lb. and upwards. 

When the weather is mild, queens generally begin to 
lay this month: in the south, early in February ; in the 
north, not till the end of the month. In this neighbour- 
hood, which is about half-way between London and 
Edinburgh, I once saw young bees on the wing on the 
15th of February. The queens that year commenced 
to lay in January. About four years ago we had a very 
late spring. The first batch of brood that year was not 
hatched till the middle of April. An open early spring 
and a warm early locality are advantageous to bees, for 
their lives are of short duration, — nine months — but 


many of them do not live so long. If a hatch of brood be 
not obtained in March to fill up the ranks thinned by- 
death, many hives become so weak in bees that these 
have a hard struggle to live. In a cold spring and late 
locality, I think it is desirable to stimulate bees by artifi- 
cial feeding, and thus cause them to breed earlier than 
they otherwise would do ; but great care is necessary in 
this work. Better be a little late in beginning it than 
too early ; and when once begun, continue feeding 
till the bees can work out of doors. It should be borne 
in mind that spring feeding is merely to stimulate and 
keep alive. Half a pound of sugar and half a pint of 
water, boiled, wiU make four or six doses for a good hive 
during this month. As a rule, March is soon enough to 
begin feeding bees. 

This month all the boards of hives should be well 
scraped or cleaned. If the bee-master wishes to change 
the position of his hives, he may venture to do it this 
month, for bees come out but seldom now ; and when they 
do come out, it is for a winter dance and purposes of 
cleanliness, and they never then go far from home. In 
times of honey-gathering, bees leave their hives and go 
straight to field or orchards, and may not discover that the 
position of their hives has been altered (if altered it has 
been) tiU they return to the old stand. In summer, hives 
should be removed from one part of a garden to another 
by short stages — say one or two yards every day. This 
month they may be removed from one side of a garden to 
another without much risk. When this is done, all the 
hives should go at once ; for naturally some bees would 
return to the old place, and if they found a hive near it, 
they would seek a home there instead of going to their 
new position. 

March. — By examining hives at the commencement of 


this month, we ascertain how they have kept their bees in 
winter. Ey gently lifting them oif their boards, and 
turning them up, we may see in what condition they are, 
without the use of smoke. In cold weather they now sit 
quietly amongst their combs ; and if a hive contain four 
or five seams of bees — that is to say, four or five lots of 
bees — about the size or breadth of a tea-cup saucer, or 
crown of a man's hat, and each lot separated by a comb 
from the next lot, the hive is (all else being well) in first- 
rate condition, and wUl probably be ready for swarming 
early in May. If a smaller hive have three such seams of 
bees at the beginning of this month, it wiU in an ordinary 
season be ready to swarm some time in May. The seams 
of bees in weak hives are often reduced to three, and 
these not much larger in a frosty morning than a gentle- 
man's watch. Such weak stocks often go spark out, not 
for want of food, but for want of bees. When two hives 
standing together have only two seams of bees each early 
in this month, they should be united at the earliest op- 
portunity, for one good hive is better than two weak ones. 
By examining hives frequently, their state may be well 
understood. When bees are moving about, the smoke 
should be used before hives are turned up. 

Bees commence to breed in February and March ; and 
when they do begin, they may be seen seeking for water. 
And in about ten days after they begin, patches of sealed 
brood may be found in hives — the strong hives with 
larger patches, and more of them, than the weak hives. 
A hive containing five seams of bees will have three 
patches of brood to begin with ; and those of three seams 
only, one patch of brood. Here we have evidence of the 
value of strong stocks. While these early patches of 
brood are being hatched, the weather gradually becomes 
warmer, and bees cover more comb. The patches become 
larger day by day, and other combs are embraced, and 


brood put in them. This goes on till the extremities 
of the comhs are covered. 

By using the smoke of fustian, and hy examining his 
hives often, any young apiarian may hecome in a short 
time — say, three months — a master of the mysteries of 
bee-keeping, and an expert in the manipulation and 
management of his hives. 

By one calm examination of a hive this month, the posi- 
tion and shape of royal cells, and the difference between 
worker-comb and drone-comb, may be well understood. 

As bees increase in number, and move more actively 
about, more food is consumed in a hive. If artificial 
feeding is necessary, more should be given at the end of 
this month. Whatever is worth doing, should be done 
well. And when progress and prosperity begin, they 
should be encouraged. Hives should have plenty of warm 
covering for two months after breeding commences. 

April. — Now the populations of hives multiply very 
fast, and every fine day a great quantity of pollen is col- 
lected. Honey is now gathered from the flowers of 
gooseberry, plum, and other trees. Strong hives rapidly 
increase in weight, and eggs are set as widely as possible — 
that is, as far as the bees cover their combs. The fertility 
of queens, and the industry of bees, are marvels in the 
history of bee-hives. When all the combs of a hive are 
covered with bees, and filled with eggs and brood, it is, 
in ordinary seasons and circumstances, within three weeks 
of being lipe for swarming. In examining a hive at this 
time, to ascertain if the bees cover their combs, no smoke 
is used ; the hive is simply raised high enough to let us 
see the bees in their natural position. 

If swarms are not wanted early, or at all, supers should 
be put on hives shortly after all their combs are covered 
by their bees. If the reader will once more read over 


the chapter on Supering, he will see that it is important 
to induce the bees to commence to iill supers at or from 
their tops or crowns, and that this is done hy the use of 
guide-combs. A few pieces — the larger the better — of 
white drone-comb, fixed in a super, induce the bees of 
the hive on which it may be placed to commence to fill 
it at once. 

Both on the swarming and non-swarming systems of 
management, drones will appear in strong hives about 
the end of this month or beginning of next. Early 
drones, it is said, indicate early swarms ; but this is not 
invariably the case ; for we have known hives possess a 
superabundance of drones for weeks before they were 
ready for swarming, and we have known hives send off 
colonies before a drone was hatched in them. 

In the case of small hives used for supering, it is desir- 
able to enlarge them by ekes, and wait till the, ekes are 
nearly filled with combs before supers are placed on them. 
They will thus be enabled to breed more bees and do 
more work than they could do without the ekes. 

May. — May and June may be deemed the most inter- 
esting and busy months in the apiary. Now all is activ- 
ity. The bees go abroad early, and carry in water for the 
day while dew is on the grass, and before honey can be 
obtained from the flowers. Almost from sunrise to sunset 
bees may be found returning to their -hives with water, 
or pollen, or honey, and frequently with both pollen 
and honey. It is a time of activity too for the owners 
of large apiaries. The time of multiplication is at 
hand. Swarming commences this month. The bee- 
master should examine his hives internally every week 
to ascertain their state and ripeness. We have seen that 
if a hive is not ready for swarming, the smoke blown 
into it drives the bees up amongst the combs, and few 



are left on the board -when the hive is turned up. The 
sweat of the bees of such a hive lies in drops in the door- 
way in the morning. But when ready to swarm, the heat 
of the hive is so great that the sweat or condensed mois- 
ture at the door is dried up or driven out two or three 
inches beyond the door. The noise of the hive is great 
in fine weather, and many bees have to work hard at the 
door to temper the excessive heat of the domicile ; and 
this is done by the rapid motion of their wings, which 
increases the circulation of air inside. About four days 
before first swarms issue from their hives, eggs are placed 
in royal cells, and very often these may be seen on ex- 
amination when many of the bees are abroad seeking 
honey. Hives, with queens set in them, should be care- 
fully watched in fine weather ; and if the owner or his 
family have no time for watching, swarms should be 
taken from such hives artificially, as already described. 
Swarms that come off naturally should be hived as soon 
as possible, and placed on a stand (where they have to 
remain) before the bees begin to work. 

Sometimes swarms decline to stay in their hives, and 
leave it to cluster again on the branch of a tree. In such 
cases they act from caprice ; and this should be remem- 
bered, for if returned to the same hive, they would prob- 
ably leave it a second time. They may readily accept 
another hive; and another swarm as readily accept the 
one that was capriciously deserted. Eking, supering, and 
nadiring, may be practised this month according to the 
aims and notions of the bee-master. If feeding be neces- 
sary this month, every strong hive should get not less 
than a pound of sugar dissolved in a pint of water. Both 
bees and brood require much food during this month. 

June. — If the weather during last month has been 


favourable for honey-gathering, the supers that were 
placed on strong hives at the end of April may be exam- 
ined. If found filled and sealed, they should be cut off 
the hive with a bit of fine wire, raised with wedges for 
about an hour, and then taken off. If more honeycomb 
be wanted, and not swarms, larger supers with guide-comb 
in them should take their places. We say larger, for 
almost all hives are stronger in bees at the end of May 
than they were at its commencement. If larger supers 
be not used, or supers large enough to hold all the bees, 
narrow ekes should be placed below the hives as well as 
supers over them. It is bad policy and practice to let 
bees cluster outside their hives for want of room inside. 

Second swarms may be expected about ten days (gene- 
rally) after natural swarms, and about seventeen days after 
artificial swarms. But the time depends on the age of 
the grubs in royal cells at the time of swarming. By 
turning up hives as soon as swarms have left them, the 
royal cells will be found with either eggs or grubs in them. 
If they contain little worms, floating on something shin- 
ing, like a drop of milk in each cell, we conclude that they 
have been there two or three days. If the royal cells are 
nearly filled, and being covered in (lids formed over them), 
they are about seven days old, and will be perfected 
in seven days more, when piping wiU. commence : and 
three days after this begins, second swarms will issue. 

In every apiary at this .season there is a superabun- 
dance of young queens, and some of the supernumeraries 
may be utilised. Lessons of great importance to those 
•who seek to manage bees profitably may be learned from 
using surplus queens. Almost every hive that has 
swarmed naturally, or been swarmed artificially, has one, 
two, or three more than it requires. These can be cut 
out and often used with advantage. In the case of late 


swarmers, we put queens in them, or royal cells with 
royal inmates (cut from earlier swarmers). To give late 
swarmers perfect queens as soon as their own have left 
or been taken from them, is one of the master-strokes of 
bee-management. They are thus helped by getting per- 
fect queens long before they could rear them. By giving 
queens in this way to late swarmers, second swarms will 
not be obtained from them, if the introduction of queens 
from other hives has been successful. 

Before we leave this subject, let us give the reader an- 
other idea (a little bit of our own peculiar practice), which 
he may find in future years to be of some importance. 
In bee-keeping, practice must vary with the season. A 
man with open eye and active brain will not always be 
guided by rote and rule ; he improves upon his own 
practice and the teaching of others. In most seasons 
large bee-keepers have early and later swarmers. Some 
seasons hives contain but little honey three weeks after 
swarming. In such seasons we do not get much honey at 
the first harvest ; but stiU occasionally we turn the bees 
out of hives when they do not contain much honey, and 
put them into empty hives ; and immediately take swarms 
from later stocks to repeople those hives from which the 
bees have been driven. Why ? Because the queens in 
these hives are just born, and will not commence to lay 
for ten or twelve days ; whereas the queens in the later 
swarmers are laying two thousand eggs daily. The bees 
have thus an opportunity of setting the eggs laid by their 
queens, and filling their hives with brood from side to 
side ; and the " turnouts " put into the empty hives have 
time to make combs before their queens commence to lay. 
It is not necessary to wait till. the twenty-first day before 
the bees are turned out, if their hives are repeopled imme- 
diately afterwards, for the swarms imported to them hatch 


the brood that may have been unhatched at the time of 
turning out. This practice is of considerable importance, 
for late swarms are thus made equal to early ones. And 
by turning the bees out of hives as soon as piping com- 
mences, or as soon as queens are born in them, there is 
no fear or danger of losing second swarms from them. 
The turnouts of large hives that have not yielded second 
swarms are valuable, because they are large and have 
young queens. 

As to the first harvest of honey, which generally begins 
in June, we have to ask the reader to consult the chapter 
on " Turnouts.'' If early honey be specially wanted, or 
bees transferred from one kind of hive to another without 
sacrifice, the bees of parent hives should be turned out of 
them about three weeks after first swarming, and put 
into empty hives. But when the turning-out system is 
not adopted, the hives of early swarmers will require 
supers or ekes before the honey season ends. 

In about four weeks after first swarms have been put 
into empty hives, they should be examined to see whether 
they require enlarging. If they are full or nearly so, and 
the weather be favourable, they should be enlarged by 
supers, ekes, or nadirs, as their owner may determine. 
If not enlarged, preparations will be made for swarming ; 
and swarms from swarms of the current year are termed 
" virgin." The seasons are exceptionally fine when it is 
profitable to take virgin swarms. 

July. — In writing a calendar, one is constantly beset 
with the difficulties and differences of early and late sea- 
sons, as well as early and late localities. In 1868, bees 
were gathering great stores from heather on the 24th of 
July. Some three years later the heather was just burst- 
ing into blossom about the 20th of Augast. A firm hold of 


principles will do more for the reader than an enumeration 
of details of management ; for after all that can be said, 
much must be left to the judgment and experience of 
every apiarian. 

July is perhaps the best month for honey, taking one 
county with another. White clover is the principal 
honey-plant this month. 

Swarming is permitted by many experienced bee- 
keepers till the middle of this month; but where bees are 
not removed to the heather, swarming should be pre- 
vented after the first week in July by eking and supering. 
Late swarmers are generally heavier when they swarm 
than those that swarm earlier, and therefore often contain 
a great deal of honey three weeks after swarming. By 
putting all their bees into empty hives, their honey may 
be obtained. This is the system advocated in the chap- 
ter on " Turnouts." Late swarms and turnouts should be 
well attended to during the first ten days of their separate 
existence, for then they have a passion for comb-building. 
A few half-pounds of sugar given at this time enable the 
bees to build comb rapidly and fill them with brood. 
This branch of bee-management is less attended to than 
many others. Indeed all should be kept in a state of 
progress this month. Breeding should be encouraged and 
promoted to the uttermost in all hives intended to be 
kept for stock another year, for hives filled with brood in 
July and August will be strong and populous during the 
following winter and spring. 

Parent hives or turnouts and second swarms should be 
carefully noticed about ten or fourteen days after their 
queens are born ; for, as we have already seen, young 
queens sometimes never return from their marriage tours. 
Swarms which thus lose their queen are seized with fits 
of grief in which they may be found making a great noise. 


and racing and running wildly both inside and outside 
their hives. In such queenless swarms drones are never 
killed ; if the bees are seen killing their drones, the bee- 
keeper has evidence that they not only have queens, but 
queens timely fertilised and in a normal state. Some 
few days after young queens begin to lay, the bees begin 
to worry their drones. Queenless swarms should be fur- 
nished with queens from other hives. 

Eking and supering should be well attended to this 
month. All full supers should be taken off and others 
put on. Let us remind the reader that it is an easy 
matter to get supers filled in July, weather permitting, 
for now plenty of white comb can be obtained from 
the hives of swarms, and placed in supers. The bees 
speedily fix such combs in the supers and fill them 
with honey. 

In bar-frame hives, the bars filled with honey should 
be removed, and empty bars placed in their stead. 

AiLgust. — Generally speaking, August is the last month 
of honey-gathering in Great Britain ; and where bees 
are taken to the moors, it is often the best. From 20 
to 60 lb. of honey are frequently gathered per hive 
on the moors. About the first week of this month is 
the usual time, in ordinary seasons, for removing bees 
to the' heather. Young apiarians are often very unfor- 
tunate in their first journey with their bees to the. moors. 
An excellent clergyman, who lost a cow by death, wrote 
in his diary these words, " This day I am a cow poorer, 
but a thought richer." And many a bee-keeper finds that 
his first journey with his bees has made him a hive 
poorer, but a thought richer. Experience is the most 
effective teacher. In sending off or removing hives in 
summer, thorough ventilation should be secured before 


they are moved; for in moving them ty cart or railway, 
all natural ventilation is stopped. Ply-proof wire on the 
doors and crowns of hives wiU give the ventilation neces- 
sary. If the combs of hives be not fastened to cross- 
sticks, it is exceedingly difficult to remove them in hot 
weather without shaking the combs down. 

If the weather be favourable for honey-gathering while 
the bees are on the heather, it is often necessary to en- 
large hives even in August. We have had supers of 30 
lb. each filled by swarms while on the heather. The ac- 
cumulations of honey is often so rapid in hives on the 
moors, that they hang outside in clusters soon after they 
are placed there. 

As bees do not sit on honeycomb, it wiU be under- 
stood that the more honey a hive contains, the less room 
it has for bees. Eking and supering may have to be 
continued till the end of this month. 

When honey-gathering ends, hives lose in weight very 
fast. But the honey the bees eat then is generally in the 
brood-combs ; and for some days after outdoor work ends, 
the bees remove some honey from centre combs to other 
parts of the hive. The bee-farmer will not sustain much 
loss by letting his hives remain a week on the moors 
after the honey has gone from the heather. The hives 
cool and their combs harden by being left for a time be- 
fore they are brought home. 

Before hives are taken to the moors they should be 
examined with a view to select and mark those to be 
kept for stock. If too heavy for keeping, 10 or 20 lb. 
of honeycomb may be cut from each of them. Those 
marked for honey should be supered or eked before they 

September. — In apiculture this is the month of general 


harvest — and honey-taking is the most unpleasant work 
the bee-keeper has to perform. 

Before the honey is taken, another examination of 
every hive should he carefully made — and hives pretty 
full of well-formed worker- combs selected for stocks. 
From 40 to 50 lb. epch is probably the most eligible 
weights for stock-hives in September. But their weights 
may range from 20 to 60 lb. each. Strong stocks 
cause no anxiety to their owners, and wiU yield as much 
profit as twice or thrice their number of weak ones. 
And now is the time to make stocks strong for another 
year. The bees of the honey-hives should be driven 
into empty ones and united to those selected for keep- 
ing. Thus every hive may be made strong in bees. 
Those who know better than destroy valuable hives in 
the brimstone-pit, should beg the cottagers to preserve 
their bees, instead of suffocating them with sulphur. 
Those who have no bees of their own to strengthen 
hives, should drive the swarms of cottagers, and give 2s. 
6d. per swarm for them. Por years I have bought con- 
demned bees in September at Is. per lb. ; but now there 
is great difficulty in finding cottagers in this locality who 
will part with their bees. The sulphur-pit will soon be 
a thing of the past. Those who use bar-frame hives 
may strengthen their stocks by taking some honey-bars 
from their stocks and putting brood-bars from honey- 
hives in their places. The brood that is hatched in 
August and September lives till spring ; and hives with 
plenty of brood in them now will be in good condition 
in March and April. Six sheets of brood now indicate 
five seams of bees in March; and five seams of bees, as 
large as the crown of a man's hat, in a cold morning in 
March, indicate that the hive is one of great strength. 

If any queens in an apiary are three years old, they 


shoidd be destroyed, and young ones put in their places, 
and when all the hrood is hatched, a careful and thorough 
examination of every hive should be made to see if foul 
brood exists, and if any be found the hives containing it 
should be put dovrn for honey. 

This month is the time for autumn feeding — for giving 
to stock-hives enough to keep them till March or April. 
Swarms put into empty hives now, and fed well, make 
combs and store up honey enough for themselves. We 
prefer two swarms in September for one hive to be filled 
by sugar alone. Instructions have been given in one of 
the chapters how the sugar has to be given. 

As soon as the bees have been driven from honey-hives, 
their sticks should be withdrawn by a pair of pincers, and 
the combs placed before a fire. Whatever procesL? be 
adopted for extracting honey, it should be put in opera- 
tion as soon as possible after the bees have been driven 
from the combs. We have always believed that a very 
simple instrument wiU be invented and used for pressing 
honey from combs. 

In taking honey from hives, the combs with brood in 
them may be placed in an empty hive, mouth upwards, in 
a natural position, and held upright by wooden pins or 
wedges. As soon as the hive is pretty well filled with 
combs of brood, a swarm of bees should be cast amongst 
them, and a board placed over all. The bees hatch all 
the brood in the combs thus roughly pinned in, and with 
this swarm doubled in population by the birth of so many 
young bees, a bee-master can strengthen many of his 
hives. Under careful, good management, both the bees 
and brood of honey-hives can be utilised with great ad- 
vantage in an apiary of large hives kept for profit. 

By putting a swarm into an empty hive with a small 
straw or wooden super on it, the bee-master may get many 


pounds of pure honeycomb by feeding this swarm with all 
his refuse combs and impure or soiled honey. We have 
filled supers by feeding swarms placed in empty hives in 
September. The bees in such cases take no impurities 
from the combs to the supers. After filtering impure or 
soiled honey, they present it to us in a beautiful state of 

After the refuse combs have been well licked or cleaned 
by the bees, they should be boiled in pure water for wax. 
Wax is so adhesive that it is diflficult to remove it from 
any pot or dish it may touch. A good handful of soda 
used in water destroys in a great measure its adhesive 
powers, and therefore makes easy the work of cleaning 
dishes in wax-boiling. 

September, of all the months of the year, is characterised 
by robbing and fighting amongst bees. They have thiev- 
ish propensities all the summer months, but then they 
can find honey in flowers more readily than by becoming 
housebreakers. In September, robbers are prowling about 
constantly, and test the defensive powers of every stock 
^n the garden. If they get admission, and are not re- 
sisted, a hive is soon robbed of aU its honey. Generally 
speaking, the enemy is repulsed. The doors of hives 
should be contracted as soon as honey-gathering ends. 

October, November, and December. — Under proper and 
enlightened management bees require no attention from 
September till March. If feeding in September has not 
been attended to, it should be done as soon as possible. 
Late feeding is very dangerous, for it may induce bees to 
commence breeding, and a frosty night may come and 
chUl the brood to death. We have known hives ruined 
by late feeding. The chilled brood became foul. We 
have tried late feeding with a view to get a late hatch of 


brood, to strengthen hives ; but finding the loss greatei 
than the gain, the practice has long since been abandoned. 
Autumn feeding should be finished as early as possible. 

As soon as it is over, all hives should be protected and 
covered well. When snow is on the ground, the reader 
■will remember to shut the doors of his hives to keep his 
bees from going out till the snow be thawed. 



wmm m mmEmm. 

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